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I was born in 1971 in Lhasa. I attended the Central Fine Art Academy in Beijing – China’s premiere art school, studying Chinese painting, art history and art theory. I chose to study Chinese paintings, as it was less restrictive then Tibetan painting, and then returned to making traditional Tibetan painting but in a new way. My art might not be seen as contemporary in a western manner since the cultural pulse in Tibet is very different.
For a long time Tibetan Buddhism had a strong and undeniable influence on many Tibetan artists. I myself was under such influence in my early days and you can see the magic and secret spell of Buddhism, with its symbols and icons, reflected in my paintings. In my studies I explored techniques that would allow me to express the themes I was then inspired by, but slowly I started questioning myself, my art and my life and realized I was getting myself trapped along the wrong path. Firstly, I only had a superficial understanding of the deepest meaning of Tibetan Buddhism so by trying to represent it in my work; my ability fell short of my wishes. I was running the risk of depicting the myth of ancient Tibet that you can find in textbooks or the legendary land of magic that people are so much talking about, while what I really wanted was to paint my Tibet, the one I grew up in and belong to.
My generation has grown up with Thanka painting, martial arts, Hollywood movies, Mickey Mouse, Charlie Chaplin, Rock n’ Roll and McDonalds. We still don’t know where the spiritual homeland is – New York, Beijing or Lhasa. We wear Jeans and T-shirts and when we drink a Budweiser it is only occasionally that we talk about “Buddha hood”.
Now in my work I look for signs of a culture that speaks of ages as well as modernity, as if my brush is a thread that connects the past and the present. I depict Tibet as a society in transition, which has received outside cultural influences and underwent major changes. A Tibet shaped by present realities and connected to the rest of the world.
More recently my work has filled with more ironic elements; this is not my way to criticize anything, just an effort to give reality a more authentic appearance. When I am pretending to represent deep philosophical and religious concepts I start painting more freely and in a more relaxed way, and any soul or object can find its own place in one of my painting and by doing so I found again the happiness I felt in my childhood while drawing cartoons.
1971: Born in Lhasa.
1990: Won First prize award in Traditional Chinese painting Exhibition held in Beijing.
1991: Won Silver prize in TAR Art Exhibition.
1993: Won outstanding nominee prize at the 8th National Art exhibition.
1994: Participated in Tibetan Contemporary Art Exhibition in Tokyo, Japan.
1998: Participated in Tibetan Contemporary Art Exhibition in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
1999: Participated in Tibetan Contemporary Art Exhibition in Beijing, China.
Nine pieces were chosen for collection of the exhibition.
2000: Works included in China Modern Art History Chronicle.
2001- 2002: Artist-in-residence in New York. Held following exhibitions:
Feb 2002 Transversing Cultures: Observation in Time and Space, Henry Street
Settlement Abrons Art Center, New York, US
Mar 2002 Visions of Tibet, Snug Harbor Cultural Center, Staten Island, NY, US
Mar 2002 Modern Mythologies, Elsa Mott Lves Gallery, New York, US
2003: Jointly organized the Gedun Choephel Artist Guild in Lhasa.
2003: Artist-in-residence at the Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Art Center in North Uist, Scotland and held Solo exhibition at the Sweet Tea House Art gallery in London, UK.
Gedunchoephel Artists' Guild
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