As featured in JUXTAPOZ on (Wednesday, 19 Feb 2014)
Artist: Pema Rinzin
Bubble of Wishful Gems
Ground mineral pigments, gold, on wood
70 x 70 inches
Joshua Liner Gallery is pleased to present Abstract Enlightenment, a new exhibition from master thangka painter and contemporary artist Pema Rinzin. This will be Rinzin’s second solo offering with the gallery, featuring small to large-scale paintings. The artist will be in attendance at the opening reception on Thursday, February 27, 2014.
With a diverse professional background, having studied and taught various genres of art, traveling and living in many different countries, it would appear Pema Rinzin has lived many lives all within a single life span. Utilizing traditional thangka painting techniques and mediums to create contemporary works, Rinzin’s paintings have been exhibited internationally and are held in numerous public and private collections—most notably by H.H. the Dalai Lama, the Rubin Museum of Art, and the Shoko-ji Cultural Research Institute.
Born in Tibet in 1966, Pema Rinzin grew up in Dharamsala, India, studying under the auspices of Kalsang Oshoe, Khepa Gonpo, Rigdzin Paljor, and other master artists from 1979 to 1983. Teaching Renaissance, Impressionist, and Abstract Expressionist art, as well as comic book-arts at the Tibetan Children’s Village School in Dharamsala—the artist’s well-rounded interdisciplinary skills would later influence his contemporary art practice.
Traveling in Europe and the United States while lecturing at universities, Rinzin familiarized himself with popular western culture. In the late 80’s, Rinzin acted as an interpreter for a group of monks touring with the Grateful Dead. From 1995 to 2004 the artist worked and taught at the Shoko-ji Cultural Research Institute in Nagano, Japan. Later on, Rinzin divided his time between Japan and Wurzburg, Germany, where he was an artist-in-residence at the Brush & Color Studio for three years. From November 2005 to October 2008, Rinzin was the first artist-in-residence at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York where he created several large-scale works depicting The Four Guardian Kings of the Four Directions, The Eight Bodhisattvas, and a scene of animals and nature displaying his brushstroke mastery.
Teaching and traveling, Pema Rinzin’s cross-cultural experiences inform the work he creates, an amalgamation of tradition and modernity. From the artist: When I came to New York, I met a lot of local fine artists and was exposed to a lot of urban contemporary art. As an artist your life is flexible. People think, oh, you’re a Tibetan, you must be a traditional painter—and they project stereotypes onto you. As an artist, you are exposed to the whole universe and you communicate with every culture. And what you do with this knowledge determines the artist you become. My style has changed in a relatively short time. But change reflects my learning. If you know yourself, you can change in a mature way, at the right time. Appreciation, understanding, and learning are all impressions extended to the viewer while taking in Rinzin’s work.
In 2007, Rinzin founded the New York Tibetan Art Studio, dedicated to bringing Tibetan art to the western world by sharing the traditional techniques as a means of preserving the culture. One such technique, his use of ground mineral pigments as a medium—gold, lapis lazuli, green malachite, are all gem quality—make these beautiful paintings all the more precious.