Discover the collection

the collection

Our gallery consists out of a selection of diverse artworks made by today’s leading Tibetan contemporary artists. Together with the classical Tibetan art objects, traditional Thangka paintings and ancient scriptures derived by the holy Buddhist sutras they offer a Tibetan perspective in the Museum.

Some examples of the collection:

Water Element and the Third Pole by Tashi Norbu
Mixed media, Scriptures with Papercuts Technique on canvas
1,02 x 1,50 m

Tashi Norbu’s vibrant Contemporary Artwork of a Buddha, sitting peacefully among flowing waters and splashes of an ocean; implying to the Water Element. The extremely dynamic, the most powerful of all the elements, which creates and fosters life on Earth. In the Book of Genesis we read that God said, “Let the waters swarm with fish and other life”, while Thales of Miletus twenty eight eons ago, took the stance that the world derives from water and rests on water. And here, the Tibetan Artist with his Piece of Art sends a message about the importance of water on the planet, especially, with regard to his country Tibet.

The Artist’s oceanic Buddha is emphasized in the center of his canvas; gazing out the endless expanse of Water Element, being emerged from it, in different blends of blues, which Artist is using deliberately to create realistic water; recalling those blues of Picasso’s “blue period”, when he was intensifying the melancholy and his emotional turmoil in life. However here, we meet Tashi Norbu’s optimism, who is choosing blues from his palette, such as Turquoise, Prussian, Indigo, for, these are the colors that reflect the skies and the shining Sun on the Water Element! Artist covers the surface of his canvas with collage of texts, derived from ancient Sutras and he will also use them, to make the shapes of splashes and waves, embracing the illusion of water. He creates the effects of water during the moment of splash, using Zinc White, and he makes the blobs of Cobalt Green or Blues hues, follow the arch of the Element.
A beautiful waterfall of white light is flowing around Buddha’s head and shoulders, and loud splashes over him, while he remains calm like the depth of the ocean! The Artist uses small amount of white paint, and glazes this mixture smoothly over the water reflections.

At the background and the upper part of the canvas, the Artist depicts delightful, holly and symbolic beings such as angels, Buddhist nuns, using warm hues to express the power of flight that comes from successful tantric practice; celebrating in this way all sentient beings ability to fly into eternity. All flying beings depicted as well as the interesting image of a mermaid hovering over water, give a lyrical aspect in this expressionistic painting. A fascinating Artwork which is an exquisite testimony to water element, and the need for Humankind, to live in harmony with creation. An Artwork revealing Artist’s spirit of appreciation to the Water Element that becomes the cause of all things that grow on Mother Earth.

  – Photos Gonkar Gyatso

My Identity Nos. 1-4 by Gonkar Gyatso
Medium: Photographs, Installation
61,5 x 78 x 3,4 cm dimensions of each
Museum/Collection: Museum of Contemporary Tibetan Art, Emmen, The Netherlands – Gallery of Rossi and Rossi Ltd. London, England


Gonkar Gyatso is one of the foremost Tibetan political artists working today. Known primarily for his works portraying the Buddha without a face, but often either blank or super-imposed with another image such as a the sickle from the Chinese flag, or multiple images from stickers of a central theme, and collected by the artist, has created a political and social self-portrait in My Identity. An installation comprised of actually four separate works, My Identity showcases the artist in four different guises as a Tibetan artist, from four different time periods of the artists’ life. The result is a showcase of different aspects of Gonkar Gyatso’s personal life, to present a small biography of himself, while at the same time making it possible to view the individual pieces as snapshots of other individual Tibetan artists who may be in similar circumstances. 

Descriptive Analysis

My Identity is in actuality a series of four self photographs, often shown as part of a single installation, that shows the artist costumed as a Tibetan artist from four different periods, painting four separate works to correspond with the four different periods of his professional career, and “is a re-enactment of a 1937 photo by C. Suydam Cutting, the first Westerner to enter the Tibetan capital, that portrays the Dalai Lama’s senior thangka painter at work”. 

The first photograph shows Gyatso dressed in a traditional Tibetan robe, painting a Buddha, as a traditional Tibetan artist would work. The second photograph shows Gyatso dressed in a Chinese communist uniform from the Cultural Revolutionary period surrounded by walls covered with newspapers, painting a picture of Mao. The third photograph shows Gyatso dressed as a modern Tibetan refugee artist painting another Buddhist oriented painting, but taking place in the Dalai Lama residence. The last photograph shows Gyatso as a refugee artist in London painting an abstract work, showing him as he is and works today. 

The work is at once colorful and simple, drawing ones attention to the piece through its vibrant use of color and realistic settings. But it is upon closer observation it becomes apparent that the artist is using the simple first impression to convey a stronger political and social message of the life of a Tibetan artist living under Chinese rule, and the identity crisis that such a condition can force upon an individual over the course of a lifetime. From the utilization of a beginning artist attempting to live and paint as a Tibetan, through the forced assimilation into a Chinese culture that is at once pervasive and limited, to attempting to find ones identity as a Tibetan in exile in different locales and with different social groups, the work is a subtle look at not only Gonkar Gyatso’s life, but the life of many Tibetans and artists who live under Chinese domination watching their culture be absorbed or nullified. 

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