Do we continue to fight for cultural autonomy?

19th September 2019

A diasporic narrative runs through Tenzing Rigdol’s oevure and gives perspective to Hong Kong peoples current fight for autonomy. Rigdol although based in New York City, was born to Tibetan refugees in Nepal in 1982, his family later immigrated to the United States when they were granted political asylum.

Asia Art Pacific Magazine mentions Rigdol’s work as an investigation of “notions of place as an emotional construct, the impact of governmental policies on creative freedom, and the philosophical essence of Tibetan Buddhist doctrine: issues that are at once deeply personal and politically incendiary.”[1]

Rigdols current exhibition “Dialogue” at Rossi Rossi Gallery shines light on the dichotomy of religion and freedom, and embodies the true definition of our polis.

Dramatic diagonal lines and sharp angles – referencing the gridlines and guidelines used in traditional Buddhist paintings to ensure accurate representations of sacred figures and diagrams – disrupt the forms depicted in the artist’s latest works. However, whilst such marks are never shown in traditional Buddhist art, they form an essential component of Rigdol’s practice. Instead of hiding them, he uses these lines to deconstruct and dismantle the deities and figures he depicts, creating tension between the lines and the coloured forms, bringing audiences to consider the same kind of tension in our political freedom.

In Exile, in Hong Kong, 2019, Acrylic on paper, 31 x 30.5 cm (12.2 x 12 in)

The gridlines featured so prominently in Rigdol’s work also draw inspiration from his family life. These lines echo the process used by carpet weavers in Nepal, including the artist’s mother. Rigdol, himself, started designing carpets at the age of ten, whilst his father had worked for a carpet manufacturer. These lines therefore seem to emerge naturally from his hand. The artist appears to deconstruct his subject, and then weave the image back together, resulting in a powerful dialogue of tension inherent in his work.

Enshrined in Rigdol’s work is a pivotal critic on Buddhism, cultural autonomy and freedom of expression in this exhibition, which forces audiences to give some deeper thought to Hong Kong’s current social and political uncertainty.

Exhibition ends Saturday, 21st September 2019 @8pm

*Artist will be in gallery for a meet and greet from 12pm-8pm on the 21st September 2019