Transcending Tibet: 30 Tibetan and non-Tibetan artists exploring Tibetan Identity today.

Over the last two decades Trace Foundation has been working with Tibetan communities on the plateau, supporting continuity and development of Tibetan culture, language, art and preservation of Tibetan heritage. After traveling in Tibet, and struck by the challenges faced by the local communities, Andrea E. Soros founded Trace Foundation to support Tibetan people and culture in Western China. Since it’s inception, Trace has touched thousands of lives on the plateau through its humanitarian, educational and development works.

Celebrating it’s 20th year Trace holds several landmark events including, Lens on Tibet, a film series held at MoMA featuring works of Tibetan filmmakers exclusively from inside Tibet. Many of the filmmakers featured in the program were former scholarship winners of Trace’s education program that enabled them to study film. Most notably, filmmaker Pema Tseden and Sonthar Gyal, who studied at the Beijing Film Academy under this program, has proven themselves as exceptional filmmakers and have exhibited their works in many important film festivals around the world.

So far Trace has provided about 5000 scholarships to support undergraduate and postgraduate training for young Tibetans from the plateau.

Ending April 12, Transcending Tibet: Celebrating Contemporary Tibetan Art, is a group show featuring specially commissioned works by 30 Tibetan and non Tibetan artists exploring Tibetan Identity today. Some of the featured artists from inside Tibet are Nortse, Benchung, Jamsang, Gade, Tsering Nyandak, and also featured are works by exile artists Gonkar Gyatso, Tenzing Rigdol, Trulku Jamyang, Tashi Norbu, Rabkar Wangchuk, Tenzin Phakmo, and many more.

Gade, Let’s Sing that Song

Many of the works by the different artists follow a similar theme in Tibetan contemporary art focusing on the clash of modernity and tradition; Buddha and Mickey Mouse in one frame but nonetheless these are stunning and colorful pieces.

Benchung, Meditator Beware, 1 of 3

Some of these works have subtle yet more profound socio-political messages including this one by Benchung, Meditator Beware, a self-portrait of the artist tied from the knee to his back by a piece of cloth that looks like a monk’s robe. Scribbled on the wall behind, you see names of a few radical Tibetan writers from exile, Ai Wei Wei, Phayul, a website for Tibetan news from exile, Facebook, google, etc.

Although the exhibition has stayed clear of any outright political messaging in these commissioned works, it is hard not to notice the urge from the artists to make a point in many of these works. On one wall sits quietly, a piece by artist Tenzing Rigdol. A portrait of a faceless Buddha, the face covered in flames of fire, possibly hinting at the 140+ self-immolation protests that has taken place in TIbet in the recent years.

The show features many lesser-known artists too including some breathtaking calligraphy by Phuntsok Tsering, a Tibetan artist from Germany. In one collaboration, Jewellery designer Nathalie Jean with Rudy Prampolini has taken inspiration from Tsering’s artwork and created a silver necklace with the calligraphy titled “Light Offering”. For this show, 25 Internationally renowned designers including Italian brand, Costume National, have created fashion items inspired by some of the artworks. Some of these designer wears and artworks are on sale at their online auction here to support the foundation’s work.

Light Offering, Phuntsok Tsering, Nathalie Jean with Rudy Prampolini


The show runs from March 14 to April 12 2015 at the Rogue Space Chelsea 508 W 26th Street, 9E-F New York, NY 10001

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