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Tibetan Artist an attraction at 2009 Venice Biennial

March 10, 2009

By Email
March 8, 2009

London -- Noted Tibetan artist Gonkar Gyatso has been invited to participate in the 2009 Venice Biennial that is to be held from June 7 to November 22, 2009. Daniel Birnbaum, Curator of the Biennial, wrote in his letter of invitation to Gyatso, “In my view your work will be one of the central contributions to the exhibition and perfectly fit the theme of my show, Fare Mondi/Making Worlds …”.

Describing the Venice Biennial as the Olympics of contemporary art, Gyatso’s PR executive, Eiko Honda, said, “Without a doubt, this is a remarkable achievement and opportunity for Tibetan contemporary art movement – not only because this is the first time in the history that a Tibetan will participate in the prestigious international art exhibition, but also because his art works critically question the Chinese and Western fantasy of idealized “exotic” Tibet, while revealing an actual reality and challenges that the Tibetans have been and will be facing with.”

The Venice Biennial originated in 1895 as an international art exhibition in the Giardini di Castello.

An Asian Art gallery Rossi & Rossi describes one of the main art works that Gyatso will be exhibiting at the Biennial as “Reclining Buddha-Beijing Tibet Relationship Index (2009), a six-metre long drawing of Buddha in the final state of enlightenment before his death. The now iconic posture of Buddha lying down, Gyatso says, “has its own elegance but also expresses a sense of vulnerability. Gyatso uses this revered image to explore Chinese-Tibetan relations, superimposing the stock market index onto the figure of Buddha. However, instead of charting the highs and lows of the financial market, Gyatso uses it as a mock graph depicting 58 years of Sino-Tibetan relations since 1951. Rather than illustrate the historical relations between the two ethnic groups – Han Chinese and Tibetan – who share a cultural history through the Buddhist religion, Gyatso’s index is tied randomly to a symbolic chronology that holds as much meaning or non-meaning depending on the viewer’s perspective of history and current issues.”

Gonkar was born in Lhasa in 1961. Studied art at the Central Institute for Minority in Beijing in 1980-84. Then he taught Fine Art at the Tibet University in Lhasa for 6 years. In 1985, he has set up the first contemporary Tibetan Artist association “Sweet Tea House Artists Group” in Lhasa. In 1992, he left Tibet and went to India studied traditional Tibetan painting and Dharma at the Tibetan Library and Archive in Daramsala. In 1996, he acquired a scholarship from the prestigious London art school Central Saint Martins Arts and Design as a guest artist. In 2000, he completed his Master degree in Fine Art with distinction at the Chelsea School of Design in London. In October 2003, Gonkar has also established the very first Contemporary Tibetan Art Gallery in Europe “Sweet Tea House Gallery” in East London.

Gonkar’s work is held in the Newark Museum, USA, the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, the Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, the White Rabbit Collection, Chippendale, the Burger Collection, Switzerland and Hong Kong, the Devi Foundation, India, and the Crocker Art Museum, California, as well as in several major private collections in Europe, Australia, Asia and the USA.

Since 1995, he has been represented by the Asian Art gallery Rossi & Rossi in London.
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