Anonymous, an exhibition of contemporary Tibetan art presented by The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at the State University of New York, New Paltz, will feature over 50 works of painting, sculpture, installation, and video art created by 27 artists living in Tibet and in diaspora. The exhibition will open to the public on Saturday, July 20, from 5 – 7 p.m. Realized by guest curator Rachel Perera Weingeist, Senior Advisor to the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, the exhibition is largely drawn from the Rubins’ private collection. Many works will be on view to the public for the first time, some were created exclusively for the exhibition. The show will run through December 15.
Anonymous seeks to explore the tension between an ancient culture’s unbroken artistic tradition and the personality-driven world of contemporary art. In traditional Tibetan art, a formal system of art production 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.
As Weingeist explains, “It is only roughly in the last ten years that a contemporary Tibetan visual culture has galvanized. Concepts of anonymity, authorship and self-representation are still very much in flux. By and large there is trepidation and reserved acceptance of this new introspective visual culture.” Anonymous is a petri dish for exploring these developments. A surprisingly large number of the works submitted for the exhibition — over 15 pieces — are self-portraits; remarkable for a culture with scant tradition of art expressing individuality, let alone self-representation. Dynamic juxtapositions of color and texture, life-size compositions, precise attention to detail, and a humorous use of pop culture imagery, exemplify the simultaneously intellectual and playful visual language of contemporary Tibetan art.
Video art plays a pivotal role in the exhibition, giving viewers access to rarely seen expressions of Tibetan life and culture. The premise and promise of anonymity allowed artists the freedom of a more open expression and the presentation of otherwise inaccessible imagery. Together the videos not only provide a glimpse at oft-censored imagery but also exemplify the varied roles of self-expression in contemporary Tibetan culture. In addition to the contemporary display, a small selection of traditional thangka paintings will provide historical context.
The inclusion of work from artists from around the globe — Dharamsala, Kathmandu, Lhasa, New York City, Oakland, Thimphu, Zurich and the Australian Outback — provides for a range of perspectives. Firmly established as well as emerging artists are featured. Benchung, Losang Gyatso, Marie-Dolma Chophel, Tsewang Tashi, Nortse, Gade, Phurba Namgay, Jhamsang, Rabkar Wangchuk, Dedron, Palden Weinreb, Tulku Jamyang, Tsering Nyandak, Karma Phuntsok, Sherab Gyaltsen, and others, including anonymous contributors, are included in the exhibition.
Recent exhibitions at the Dorsky have incorporated — with great success and to the delight of Museum goers — several accompanying events spanning the duration of the exhibition. Following in this “new” tradition Anonymous will serve as a catalyst for a series of public programs, artist talks, academic symposia, and educational offerings at the Dorsky and throughout the SUNY New Paltz community.
Several Tibetan artists will lead public lectures and participate in educational programming. Coinciding with the opening, California based artist Tsherin Sherpa, will spend ten days on site constructing, from found objects, a site-specific self-portrait.
Zurich-based artist, Kesang Lamdark, son of a Rinpoche, will spend a period in residence at the University, following a term at the Vermont Studio Center, where a number of Tibetan artists have participated as Rubin Fellows. And, as part of the SUNY New Paltz distinguished speaker series, Columbia University professor Robert Thurman will present a lecture October 21.
Published in conjunction with ArtAsiaPacific, a 200-page, full-color, catalogue will accompany the exhibition, with contributions by exhibition curator Rachel Perera Weingeist, cultural historian, writer, and curator David Elliott, activist and writer, Jamyang Norbu, and Tom Finklepearl, Director of the Queens Museum in New York City. Several of the exhibiting artists will contribute essays sharing personal insight into their own artistic practice.
Funding for Anonymous and related programs is provided by the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, Friends of the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, and the State University of New York at New Paltz. Additional funding for the exhibition catalogue is provided by the Fleming Museum of Art, University of Vermont; Arthur A. Anderson; and Jim and Mary Ottaway.
About the Museum
The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, located at SUNY New Paltz, is fast becoming the premier public showplace for exhibition, education, and cultural scholarship about the Hudson Valley region’s art and artists from yesterday and today. With more than 9,000 square feet of exhibition space distributed over six galleries, the Dorsky Museum is one of the largest museums within the SUNY system.
The Dorsky was officially dedicated on Oct. 20, 2001. Since then it has presented over one hundred exhibitions, including commissions, collection-based projects, and in-depth studies of artists including Robert Morris, Alice Neel, Judy Pfaff and Carolee Schneemann.
Featured image; Rabkar Wangchuk Spiritual Mind and Modern Technology 2013 Acrylic on canvas 78 X 48 in.
Anonymous: Contemporary Tibetan Art
Curated by Rachel Perera Weingeist
July 20 — December 15, 2013
Morgan Anderson Gallery, Howard Greenberg Family Gallery, Sara Bedrick Gallery, and Corridor.
Opening reception: Saturday, July 20, from 5 – 7 pm
Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art
State University of New York at New Paltz
SUNY New Paltz 1 Hawk Drive, New Paltz, NY 1256
Wednesday — Sunday: 11 am – 5 pm
From August 5th through 23rd we will be open on Saturdays and Sundays only.
(Closed Mondays, Tuesdays, and Holidays)
Please call ahead during summer and intersessions to confirm exhibitions available.