Tenzing Rigdol is a contemporary Tibetan artist whose work ranges from painting, sculpture, drawing and collage, to digital, video-installation, performance art and site specific pieces. His paintings are the products of collective influences and interpretations of age-old traditions; they are influenced by philosophy; often capture the ongoing issues of human conflicts; and have strong political undertones – for him, politics is an unavoidable element in his art. Indeed in recent years Rigdol has become a focus for young Tibetan diaspora precisely because of the political nature of his art.
Born in 1982 in Kathmandu, Nepal, Rigdol and his family were granted political asylum in the USA in 2002. Rigdol has extensively studied Tibetan sand painting, butter sculpture and Buddhist philosophy in Nepal. In 2003 he earned a diploma in traditional Tibetan thangka painting and in 2005 he was awarded a BFA in Painting and Drawing and a BA in Art History at the University of Colorado Denver, USA. Rigdol is also an accomplished poet, having published three collections of poetry, “R”–the Frozen Ink (2008), Anatomy of Nights (20011) and Butterfly’s Wings (2011), printed by Tibet Writers.
He has been widely exhibited internationally and his artworks are included in public and private collections around the world. In 2011 his widely reported Our Land, Our People involved the covert transportation of 20 tonnes of soil out of Tibet, through Nepal, to Dharamsala. There, displaced Tibetans were given the opportunity to walk on their home soil once again. The journey to smuggle the soil across across three borders is documented in Bringing Tibet Home, a documentary directed by Tenzin Tsetan Choklay, that was awarded the Young European Jury Award (Prix du Jury de Junes Européens) at the 27th edition of FIPA (Interantional Festival of Audiovisual Programmes. In 2014, Rigdol became one of only two contemporary Tibetan artists to be included in the exhibition Tibet and India: New Beginnings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. His work Pin Drop Silence: Eleven-Headed Avalokitesvara was also the first work by a contemporary Tibetan artist to be acquired by the Met.