Dialogue: Paintings That Connect the Exiling and the Exile
Why We Recommend it
Tibetan diasporic artist Tenzing Rigdol’s (b. 1982, Nepal) prominent use of lines plays with traditional Buddhist paintings, deconstructing deities juxtaposed with these dramatic cuts of lines across the canvases to speak to the communication breakdown between Tibet and China, the myriad of conflicting voices with the Tibetan exile communities or the deconstruction or dismantling of everyday traditions.
Dramatic diagonal lines and sharp angles–referencing the gridlines and guidelines used in traditional Buddhist paintings to ensure accurate representations of sacred figures and diagrams–disrupt the forms depicted in the artist’s latest works. However, whilst such marks are never shown in traditional Buddhist art, they form a component of Rigdol’s practice. Instead of hiding them, he uses these lines to deconstruct and dismantle the deities and figures he depicts, creating tension between the lines and the coloured forms.
The gridlines so frequently featured in Rigdol’s work also draw inspiration from his family life. These lines echo the process used by carpet weavers in Nepal, including the artist’s mother. Rigdol, himself, started designing carpets at the age of ten, whilst his father had worked for a carpet manufacturer. These lines therefore seem to emerge naturally from his hand. The artist appears to deconstruct his subject, and then weave the image back together, resulting in a powerful dialogue of tension inherent in his work.
The artist’s artworks draw from traditional Buddhist imagery. Although not outwardly political, his paintings and collages delve into political topics, such as the Chinese presence in Tibet and the resulting protests of the Tibetan self-immolation movement. The works are also visually stimulating: Rigdol’s various modes of creation, including watercolour, acrylic and collage work together harmoniously. Although the messages within these images are not necessarily harmonious, his work provides viewers with critical lines, or pathways, towards further conversation.