Gonkar Gyatso, “Ambivalent Resolution”, 2013, Stickers, Paper Collage, Pencil, Marker, Polyurethane Finish on Resin Sculpture, 32 Inches in Height
One of the most important contemporary artists from Tibet working today, Gonkar Gyatso is renowned for his lyrical and ironic pop montaging in sculpture, printmaking, collage and painting. Executed in 2013, “Ambivalent Resolution” is an example of Gyatso’s pioneering modernism, negotiating the juxtaposition of traditional Buddhist imagery and poignant symbols of pop culture.
Gonkar Gyatso has appropriated the iconic Buddha figure as the seminal image of his work. “Ambivalent Resolution” features a seated Buddha figure, whose elegant limbs follow traditional 14th century Buddhist iconometrical standards of proportion. The sculpture is digitally scanned, digitally manipulated and then turned into a mould from which the resin sculpture is cast.
Rather than the familiar, erect posture of meditation associated with imagery of the Buddha, Gyatso’s figure sits slouched, headless. The surface of the sculpture is covered in the artist’s trademark stickers—a mixture of American, European, Tibetan and Chinese decals featuring images of religious leaders, newspaper headlines, manga characters and superheroes, corporate logos and excerpts from Tibetan texts, all engulfed in cartoon flames.
Born in Lhasa in 1961, Gonkar Gyatso trained in traditional brush painting at the Central University for Nationalities in Beijing from 1980 to 1984 as well as traditional Tibetanthangka painting in Dharamsala. He later received his MA in Postmodern Art at the Chelsea College of Art and Design in London. In 2003, Gonkar Gyatso founded the Sweet Tea House in London, dedicated to promoting contemporary Tibetan art and bringing together artists from inside Tibet and from abroad.