Pema Tshering


While I have identified as a contemporary artist for more than 20 years, I still see myself seeking out opportunities to learn about art and its relation to life, culture, tradition and humanity. As an artist I am greatly inspired by the end- less creative possibilities that come from life and our experiences in different spaces including the richness of Bhutanese visual heritage and philosophy blended with the infinite range of visual techniques to create many forms, be it abstract, conceptual or realistic. I am currently excited by the challenging freedom of working in different mediums to explore concept and conceptual art in Buddhist themes in personal expression and experience.

My work frequently responds to and engages with traditional Bhutanese art and its religious themes. I often explore Buddhist spiritualism, both its ab- stract intangible philosophies and its manifestations in everyday life such as symbols, personalities, practices and the human landscape of faith and beliefs. Much of my work attempts to re-imagine these Buddhist concepts, freeing them from their expected, familiar traditional contexts and allowing them to shift into new creative directions. A current preoccupation is how to artistically express and explore my own questions about the impermanent and illusionary nature of human life and existence.

My journey as an artist has enjoyed the dual blessing of being born in a nation like Bhutan, which has a strong, vibrant and colorful tradition of art and being involved since childhood with the Voluntary Artist Studio, Thim- phu (VAST), where I have been constantly exposed to new artistic styles and traditions. VAST is more that just an art center or even a place to learn art—-it’s a vibrant, inclusive community, which trains, supports, and inspires young contemporary Bhutanese artist like myself to create and explore. I am proud to be a founding member of VAST, proud of the accomplishments of my fellow VAST artist, and proud to have learnt under the pioneers. And finally, I am proud of my continued association with VAST as I help to teach and nurture a new group of promising young artists.

Contemporary art is relatively new in Bhutan and as a contemporary Bhu- tanese artist I recognize both the challenges and opportunities of this cir- cumstance. We are still learning to understand and connect with new ways of expression. However, I see being part of the first wave of contemporary Bhutanese artist as an honor and I feel privileged to be among the first to re-imagine, re-shape particularly Bhutanese experiences, beliefs and land- scapes without being overly influenced or limited by someone else’s inter- pretations. I hope every piece of work that I undertake has the potential for both myself and the viewer to interpret and represent our world with a fresh and untutored perspective. I know this is both an exciting opportunity and huge responsibility, both of which I embrace.

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