Expressions of an Artist

Buddha of Long Life
Buddha of Long life or of “boundless life” also called the Amitabha is always depicted in red color. It is this form of Buddha which is meditated on or prayed to for people to reach their full potential by eliminating obstacles and other forces which may limit their life.

While I have identified myself as a contemporary artist for more than 19 years, I still see myself as a student of art, always seeking out opportunities to learn about new techniques, styles and traditions. As an artist I am greatly inspired by the endless creative possibilities that come from combining the richness of Bhutanese visual heritage with the infinite range of art techniques, including watercolors, acrylic, sketching and mixed media, and have also attempted many forms, be it abstract, conceptual or realistic. I am currently excited by the challenging freedom of working in different form of mediums to explore concept and conceptual art in Buddhist theme in personal expression and experience.

My work frequently responds to and engages with traditional Bhutanese art and its religious themes.

Liberation is not beyond the sea of suffering but within it. Union of Nirvana and Samsara.

For example my art often explores Buddhist spiritualism, both its abstract intangible philosophies and its manifestations in everyday life such as symbols, personalities, practices and the human landscape of faith and beliefs. Much of my work attempts to re-imagine these Buddhist concepts, freeing them from their expected, familiar traditional contexts and allowing them to shift into new creative directions. A current preoccupation  is how to artistically express and explore my own questions about the impermanent and illusionary nature of human life and existence.

Buddha of the past
“I never see what has been done; I only see what remains to be done.”

My journey as an artist has enjoyed the dual blessing of being born in a nation like Bhutan, which has a strong, vibrant and colorful tradition of art and being involved since childhood with the Voluntary Artist Studio, Thimphu (VAST), where I have been constantly exposed to new artistic styles and traditions. VAST is more that just an art center or even a place to learn art—-it’s a vibrant, inclusive community, which trains, supports, and inspires young contemporary Bhutanese artist like myself to create and explore. I am proud to be a founding member of VAST, proud of the accomplishments of my fellow VAST artists, and proud to have learnt under the pioneers. And finally, I am proud of my continued association with VAST as I help to teach and nurture a new group of promising young artists.

Contemporary art is relatively new in Bhutan and as a contemporary Bhutanese artist I recognize both the challenges and opportunities of this circumstance. We are still learning to understand and connect with new ways of expression. However, I see being part of the first wave of contemporary Bhutanese artist as an honor and I feel privileged to be among the first to re-imagine, re-shape particularly Bhutanese experiences, beliefs and landscapes without being overly influenced or limited by someone else’s interpretations. I hope every piece of work that I undertake has the potential for both myself and the viewer to interpret and represent our world with a fresh and untutored perspective. I know this is both an exciting opportunity and huge responsibility, both of which I embrace.

No Entry
The victory banner represents the body of the Buddha, representing Buddha’s victory over pride, desire, emotion and the fear of death. As the monk holds a no entry sign to the victory banner, one tends to question why? Is it just impossible or is it that one cannot think of becoming victorious. Or why does it seem like someone doesn’t want you to be victorious? Or who can seek to be victorious?
Borrowed Beauty
The lotus flower represents the purity of body, speech and mind of the Buddha. It is said that lotus has its roots in the mud in the pond but still blooms to become the most beautiful flower.
But as the monk tries to uproot this flower, one can question if the only way to spread the beauty is by uprooting it? Is it the only way we will ever understand the depth of the beauty?
Proud as a Peacock
Inspired by the Buddha of the God Realm carrying a traditional guitar as antidote to ego. There is a Bhutanese saying “as proud as a peacock” so I tried to present this concept with the textures and colors of what I feel “ego” is. I feel that even though pride and ego manifest itself as bright, dynamic, beautiful, it is still an emotion which can be “poison”.

Pema Tshering

A Bhutanese contemporary artist for over 19 years, Pema Tshering aka Tintin, as he is popularly referred to, re-examines Buddhist and Bhutanese concepts, freeing them from their expected, familiar contexts and reframing their meaning.