A rare exhibit of contemporary Tibetan art that opened July 20 at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at the State University of New York at New Paltz is garnering attention from the wider art world. The show, entitled Anonymous, features more than 50 works of painting, sculpture, installation, and video art by 27 artists living in Tibet and its diaspora.
These include many previously unshown works from the private collection of Shelley and Donald Rubin (founders of New York’s Rubin Museum of Art; a truncated version of this exhibit was shown there in 2010).
A review published last week in the New York Times attempts to contextualize the show:
Although there is still no McDonald’s in [Tibet’s capital] Lhasa, you sense the McDonald’s effect in this show. To participate in the globalized art world, artists often have to speak the lingua franca of art. The downside of “global art” is a homogenizing effect, such that much of the work here uses techniques familiar from conceptualism, installation art, minimalism and particularly Pop art — expressed, however, with a Tibetan accent…“Anonymous” is interesting because of the questions it raises, like, who is the audience for new Tibetan art? At what point do artists no longer living in Tibet become merely “Tibetan-born” artists? And should we even continue to look at art through the lens of nationality? After all, “Anonymous” reveals that even places where there is no McDonald’s experience the collision of traditional aesthetics and multinational corporations, and all forms of culture are affected.
The Huffington Post‘s overview called Anonymous “both an archive and a laboratory for the burgeoning tradition of visual self-representation in [Tibet and the Tibetan diaspora].” They reproduced nine pieces from the exhibit, three of which you can see after the jump.
According to curator Rachel Perera Weingeist, “It is only roughly in the last ten years that a contemporary Tibetan visual culture has galvanized.” The museum’s press material further explains:
“Anonymity and self-expression are commonly polarized values and artistic goals within the global art market. In traditional Tibetan art, artistic craft was used to support the transmission of Buddhist culture. In the present atmosphere, however, art is becoming a vital medium of self-expression for Tibetans — increasingly, artists are creating work focused on the individual. A cautious 21st century visual language steeped in irony, metaphor, and allusion has fully emerged.”
Click here to see other representative images from the Anonymous exhibit and to get info on attendant programs, such as a lecture by Columbia professor Robert Thurman on October 21.
All images from the Shelley and Donald Rubin Private Collection, courtesy Samuel Dorsky Museum.