MODERNISM IN TIBETAN ART: The creative journey of four artists
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This dissertation examines modernism in Tibetan art through the work and life experiences of four modern Tibetan artists from Tibet: Amdo Jampa (1916-2002), Tsering Dorje (1949- ), Jigme Trenle (1958- ) and Benpa Chungdak (1970 - ). In recent years, a few studies on modern Tibetan visual culture have been conducted; however, many important narratives and art practices of local artists have never been the subject of in-depth research. Furthermore, local Tibetan perspectives are virtually lacking in this field. This study therefore seeks to fill this gap, and at the same time hopefully promote higher art education in Tibet. The main research methodology is the multiple case study approach. Narrative interviews were conducted in Lhasa (Tibet) during 2009-2010, as well as key person interviews and participant observation. These were ensued by literature reviews and formal PhD studies in Norway. The study confirms that the four Tibetan artists have received various foreign art influences from the West and elsewhere. However, these effects have not simply reflected foreign effects on Tibetan art; they became elements in a many faceted art production that involves local, cultural, and external sources. Considerable attention has been paid to formal aspects by all four artists, yet each have synthesised various art vocabularies in order to express their ideas and feeling based on cultural and global context. In spite of their departing from conventions, their artworks draw upon past legacies. The art of the case artists is not devoted to the dictates of the formal aspects of traditional religious art, yet religion (Buddhism) is one of the most significant themes in their art. Furthermore, the study shows that in spite of an increased tendency of secularisation (particularly in the case of Amdo Jampa) in the representation of traditional motifs, all four artists are highly conscious of cultural identity in their art, which has expanded the meaning of ethnic character through the means of their art productions. The aim of this study is to contribute to the enhancement of higher art education in Tibet by redesigning its pedagogical content and methodology as these factors continue to play a significant role in modern art development in Tibet.
SeriesDoctoral thesis at NTNU;