This exhibition comprises some 20 works by this Tibetan artist, now resident in the USA, and includes paintings, drawings, photographs, sculpture and a video installation.
Tenzing Rigdol was born in 1982 in Kathmandu and studied art and art history at the University of Colorado, USA. He has extensively studied Tibetan sand painting, butter sculpture and Buddhist philosophy in Kathmandu, Nepal, gained a degree in Tibetan traditional thangka painting and is a published poet. In 2002, he and his family were granted political asylum in the USA and they now live in the Bronx, New York City.
Rigdol’s paintings are the product of collective influences and interpretations of age-old traditions; they are influenced by philosophy, often address the issues of human conflict and have strong political undertones. Politics is an unavoidable element in his art. Experiment with Forms will be Rigdol’s first solo exhibition but over the past four years he has participated in exhibitions in London, Hong Kong, Shanghai, New York and several other American cities.
The seven-minute video, entitled Scripture Noodle, is a performance inspired by the Buddhist saying: “Don’t be the bowl that carries the soup, be the mouth that gulps it”. Tenzing Rigdol responded: “That’s ironically interesting with respect to the many religious practices that are found within the Tibetan communities”. In the video, the artist cuts a Buddhist text into thin strips, then chops up herbs and vegetables before cooking them all in a wok and finally eating the unusual stir-fry from a polystyrene take-away box. (figs. 3a, 3b, 3c)
The title of the sculpture, This is not a chair, is reminiscent of the famous painting of a pipe, Ceci n’est pas une pipe, by the great Surrealist artist René Magritte. As Rigdol says “I wondered if I could change the functionality of a clearly defined object by adding other values to it. In this case, I covered the chair with Tibetan Buddhist scriptures and asked myself if this could still be a chair? Perhaps it is a chair which one cannot use to sit on, or maybe someone can sit on it while others cannot, depending on their own mental disposition.”
Each of Rigdol’s paintings has a distinct meaning and philosophy behind it. Of Mandala of Harmony, Rigdol writes: “Like many, I have always been very sensitive to the issues of violence. I think that an act of violence whether on a domestic or on a national level can only be defined as an irrational act, period. So I thought why not create a painting about it.”