TRANSCENDENTAL. Gonkar Gyatso at Galleria Mimmo Scognamiglio in Milan
August 8, 2015
This is the first major show of Gyatso’s work in Italy since his inclusion in ‘Making Worlds’ at the 53rd Venice Biennial in 2009. Entitled ‘Transcendental’ which means beyond common thought or experience, this latest series of works explore Gyatso’s Tibetan roots and is inspired by traditional mandalas and Thangka scroll painting, which he studied in his formative years in Dharamsala (India). Despite his initial training in this extremely sacred ancient technique, he is more concerned with the abstract quality of iconometry, the system of specific measurements and proportions of the thangka grid rather than its covert Buddhist symbolism.
The exhibition also includes some of Gyatso’s ongoing series of works on paper and sculpture with their celebrated mixture of Buddhist iconography and pop images for which he has achieved notoriety in international art biennales and institutions. These works often comprise of his characteristic collage technique using colourful children’s stickers of superheroes and cartoon characters combined with Buddha imagery. This intriguing juxtaposition of the sacred and the profane comments on the way that Asian cultures have been embraced by global consumerism.
His recent works can be both playful and political and where he also interweaves trademark logos from well know consumer giants and luxury goods brands. And yet his overt political statements are frequently carefully camouflaged to deflect politicised readings since in China where he also works it is forbidden to show any politically sensitive imagery.