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Announcement
July 12, 2013

Anonymous: Contemporary Tibetan Art

Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz
Dedron, Mona Lisa, 2012. Mineral pigment on canvas, 39 ¼ x 31 inches. Courtesy The Shelley and Donald Rubin Private Collection.

Anonymous: Contemporary Tibetan Art opens at The Dorsky Museum on July 20

The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at the State University of New York, New Paltz is pleased to present Anonymous, an exhibition of contemporary Tibetan art featuring over 50 works of painting, sculpture, installation, and video art by 27 artists living in Tibet and in diaspora. Realized by guest curator Rachel Perera Weingeist, Senior Advisor to the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, the exhibition is largely drawn from the Rubins’ private collection. Many works will be on view to the public for the first time, some made exclusively for the exhibition. Beginning July 20, the show will be open through December 15. A public opening will be held Saturday, July 20, 5–7 pm.

Anonymous explores the tension between an ancient culture’s unbroken artistic tradition and the personality-driven world of contemporary art. Anonymity and self-expression are commonly polarized values and artistic goals within the global art market. In traditional Tibetan art, a formal system of art production was used to support the transmission of Buddhist culture. In the present atmosphere however, art is becoming a vital medium of self-expression for Tibetans—increasingly, artists are creating work focused on the individual. A cautious 21st-century visual language steeped in irony, metaphor, and allusion has fully emerged.

As Weingeist explains, “It is only roughly in the last ten years that a contemporary Tibetan visual culture has galvanized. Concepts of anonymity, authorship and self-representation are still very much in flux. By and large there is trepidation and reserved acceptance of this new introspective visual culture.” Anonymous is a petri dish for exploring these developments. A surprisingly large number of the works submitted for the exhibition are self-portraits; remarkable for a culture with scant tradition of art expressing individuality, let alone self-representation. Dynamic juxtapositions of color and texture, life-size compositions, precise attention to detail, and a humorous use of pop culture imagery exemplify the simultaneously intellectual and playful visual language of contemporary Tibetan art.

Video art plays a pivotal role in the exhibition, giving viewers access to rarely seen expressions of Tibetan life and culture. A curatorial panel culled works from an extended international open call for video submissions from the Tibetan community. The premise and promise of anonymity allowed for artists a more open expression and the presentation of otherwise inaccessible imagery. Together, the videos not only provide a glimpse at oft-censored imagery but also exemplify the varied roles of self-expression in contemporary Tibetan culture. In addition to the contemporary display, a small selection of traditional thangka paintings will provide historical context.

The inclusion of work from artists from around the globe—Dharamsala, Kathmandu, Lhasa, New York City, Oakland, Thimphu, Zurich and the Australian Outback—provides for a range of perspectives. Firmly established as well as emerging artists are featured. Benchung, Losang Gyatso, Marie-Dolma Chophel, Tsewang Tashi, Nortse, Gade, Phurba Namgay, Jhamsang, Rabkar Wangchuk, Dedron, Palden Weinreb, Tulku Jamyang, Tsering Nyandak, Karma Phuntsok, Sherab Gyaltsen, and others, including anonymous contributors, are included in the exhibition.

Published in conjunction with ArtAsiaPacific, a 200-page, full-color catalogue will accompany the exhibition.

Funding for Anonymous is provided by the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, Friends of the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, and the State University of New York at New Paltz. Additional funding for the exhibition catalogue is provided by the Fleming Museum of Art, University of Vermont; Arthur A. Anderson; and Jim and Mary Ottaway.

About the museum
The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art comprises more than 9,000 square feet of exhibition space distributed over six galleries. The Dorsky was officially dedicated on October 20, 2001. Since then it has presented over one hundred exhibitions, including commissions, collection-based projects, and in-depth studies of artists including Robert Morris, Alice Neel, Judy Pfaff, and Carolee Schneemann. For more information about The Dorsky Museum and its programs, visit www.newpaltz.edu/museum, or call T (845) 257 3844.

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