'Vagabond' Art


By Lisa Autz

Landscape of My Memory. By Chungpo Tsering. Acrylic/collage on canvas.

A major factor in the history of Tibetans is that they are citizens without a proper nation, lacking a fixed geographical location. This physical impermanence is a theme the Tibetan artist Chungpo Tsering evokes in his latest work, Vagabond, on display at the Tibet House US in New York City.

Incorporating elements of Tibetan script, the artist creates an abstract, acrylic collage inspired by the faith, power, and politics of his people. The artistic rendition acts like a homage to a land that Tibetans once saw as their own–beautiful compiled mountain ranges are stripped with cultural text that just doesn’t quite seem to belong.

About half the size of Europe, with a population of about 3 million, Tibet is crammed between India and China, and hosts a population that struggles to call a space their own. By 1959 China illegally established itself in Tibet and eventually claimed it as an autonomous region.

Chungpo Tsering at the gallery opening.

Tsering also has a personal understanding living the life of a drifter. Born in 1979, the native is from the town of Dhingeri, but has called Korea, Nepal, Thailand, and California his homes. He represents his own nomadic journeys in his piece, Landscape of My Memory, with bold, wild brush strokes in a flight of color and collage that capture an emotionally scattered state.

Zola Nyambuu, the gallery director at Tibet House US, spoke with BTR on how Tsering’s collage technique intends to provoke larger themes of Tibetan life.

“Tsering blends political and cultural themes to visualize the political oppression of his homeland and national identity,” says Nyambuu. “Tsering’s abstract paintings evoke a sense of collage, and trace the artist’s emotional perspective on what it means to be Tibetan in the current political climate, and without any geographical permanence.”

The artist was an early participant in the Tibetan contemporary art movement and also founded the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) in Nepal. However, due to the political nature of his art, his exhibition was forcibly closed. He has since lived and worked in California after obtaining political asylum in the US.

Vagabond, Art by Chungpo Tsering opened at Tibet House US on Nov 14 and runs through Dec 29.

All photos courtesy of Tibet House US.