Kesang Lamdark was born in Dharamsala in 1963 and was later adopted by a Swiss family and so grew up and was educated in Switzerland. After four years of apprenticeship as an interior architect there, he went to New York and studied first at the Parsons School of Design and then Columbia University. As a Tibetan raised in Switzerland, Lamdark is continually searching for an appropriate cultural space for himself. Having long felt like an outsider, he was eventually able to reconnect with his heritage and his multi-cultural upbringing became the driving force behind his art. As an artist, he combines unusual materials, from hair to plastic, beer cans to nail polish and, ultimately, his life and work focus on bringing together the unfamiliar.
Many of the works in the exhibition are formed from melted plastic. Among the most striking is Dwarf of the Golden Horse Shit, comprising eleven pieces of gold-painted horse dung, melted plastic and a found object. While Pink Cowboy Shoe, Bicycle Wheel (pink) and Grass Virgin, all made of melted plastic, seem to have no eastern references, the melted plastic Nandi (Bull), the lightbox Buddha in my Ear and Buddha in Chip Can represent Lamdark’s bringing together of ancient Tibetan culture with contemporary materials and ideas. Similarly the luminous prints Yes, Beer Barrel, Terror, Beer Can and Monster, Beer Can evoke the intensity of wrathful Buddhist deities.
Marcel Duchamp is among the Western artists who have most influenced Lamdark so it is timely that this exhibition coincides with Duchamp, Man Ray, Picabia, the inventors of the ‘readymade’ or found object as art, taking place at Tate Modern. It is tempting to compare Lamdark’s Table with Beer Cans, Ego, made from plexi glass and found objects, and Can in Blue Hand, also made with found objects, with Duchamp’s seminal Fountain, 1917, the famous urinal that shocked the world a hundred years ago and began the ongoing debate about what constitutes a work of art.
Plastic Karma will comprise some twenty works for sale at prices between £1,000 and £20,000. It is curated by Elaine W Ng, publisher and editor of ArtAsiaPacific and will be accompanied by a catalogue that will include an essay by the curator: ‘In conversation with Kesang Lamdark’. It follows four solo shows of Lamdark’s work