QUEENSLAND.- Rossi & Rossi Ltd.
announced that Gonkar Gyatso will participate in the '6th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art'. On view are two new works, "Reclining Buddha Shanghai to Lhasa Express" and "Spring 2008", along with a third, "Angel", from the permanent collection of the Queensland Art Gallery. It will be the artists first exhibition following his inclusion in the 'Arsenale' at the '53rd Venice Biennale' in summer of 2009.
Each work is crafted through Gyatsos signature technique, with hundreds of stickers carefully arranged to create images culled from mass media and Buddhist iconography. Angel presents the iconic image of an Abu Ghraib prisoner rendered in brand logo stickers superimposed over a Buddhist deity of compassion. A flurry of news headlines and advertising taglines surround the ambiguous figure.
Meticulous prints and drawings create a delicate counterpoint to the graphic vibrancy of the stickers. "Spring 2008" depicts seven horned female deities in an initially tranquil image that belies a sinister undercurrent. The title references rioting in which Tibetans killed ethnic Chinese citizens, each deity wields a 'vajra' ritual implement symbolizing thunderbolts while the central figure extends her tongue; a Tibetan sign of respect and taunt in the West. The combined iconography highlights a demonstration of ferocity that stands in stark contrast to the western image of the perpetually gentle Tibetan.
Gyatso charts subtle shifts in identity and belonging that result from a life of migration, transcending the resulting diffuse hybridism by fusing many cultures and traditions into a cohesive whole. This dimension of his work is particularly underscored in "Reclining Buddha Shanghai to Lhasa Express", in which the artist, through the image of a reclining Buddha, depicts the transitions in environment, development and culture he observed while making the titular long cross country journey by rail. At the beginning of the route the stickers express the urban sprawl and teeming development of the metropolis that gradually gives way to Tibetan wilderness, though creeping signs of modernization remain.
Gonkar Gyatso was born in Lhasa in 1961, and studied in Beijing and London. Currently based in New York, in 2003 he was the recipient of a Leverhulme fellowship and Artist in Residence at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. His work has been internationally exhibited in galleries and museums in Asia, Europe and North America.