GONKAR GYATSO : Three Realms

Tibetan artist Gonkar Gyatso interweaves traditional Buddhist iconography with pop- culture references to explore issues of identity, globalisation, hybridity, and consumerism.

Art Exhibition previously on at IMA - Institute of Modern Art in Fortitude Valley precinct, Queensland, Australia.
From Saturday 20 August 2011 to Thursday 13 October 2011
Launch Saturday 20 August 2011, 5pm

Panel from 108 Burning Questions (Equality) image Excuse Me While I Kiss the Sky (Seated Buddha) image God Series 1 image

Published by Institute of Modern Art on Sunday 07 August 2011.
Contact the publisher.

Three Realms opens at the IMA on Saturday 20 August at 5pm. The opening will be preceded by an artist talk by Gonkar Gyatso at 4pm.

Gyatso grew up during the Cultural Revolution, which saw the suppression and destruction of art forms that did not coincide with Mao’s ideological program. Traditional religious Tibetan art forms were forbidden, as were bourgeois western ones. Years later, while studying Chinese calligraphy in Beijing, Gyatso came to appreciate the distinctiveness of his Tibetan heritage. After graduating, he studied traditional Tibetan thangka (scroll painting) in Dharamsala, India. Moving to London in 1985, he founded the Sweet Tea House, the first Tibetan avant-garde artists association.

Gyatso’s work charts shifts in identity caused by continual migration. It combines traditional calligraphy and Buddhist thangka iconography with collages of colourful stickers and cut-out text, playing on but subverting typecast notions of Tibetan culture and considering the popularisation of Buddhism in the West. In combining references to traditional Tibetan life with references to a global mass-media culture that threatens to supplant and extinguish it, Gyatso creates a volitile, ambivalent mix.

While Gyatso’s works featured in the 2009 Venice Biennale, the 2009 Asia Pacific Triennial, and the last Biennale of Sydney, Three Realms is his first public-gallery survey. In three Brisbane museums, it presents three distinct phases of his work from the last ten years. First, Gyatso’s most recent work will be shown at the IMA. Then, Three Realms will continue at Griffith University Art Gallery, 25 February–1 April 2012, and UQ Art Museum, 25 February–29 April 2012. A joint project with Griffith Artworks and UQ Art Museum.