Colour Of Prayers

A solo exhibition by Asha Kama in honour of the NATIONAL ORDER OF MERIT (GOLD)

Please come to the opening of “Colour of Prayers” a solo exhibition in honour of National Order of Merit (Gold).

Join us for:
Lunch on 25th June @ 11 AM
OR
Dinner on 26th June @ 6 PM
Venue: VAST Bhutan, Clock Tower Square

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Artist Statement

I first encountered western art when I was a young boy studying in one of the first exclusive public schools in Thimphu. Leaving my conventional English school I spent several years as an apprentice studying the religious and mythological art of Bhutan at the National Fine Art Centre. After the apprenticeship, I joined the service of the Royal Government as an illustrator/designer for the Development Support Communications Division. I produced a development communication artwork to enhance development programmes of the Royal Government.

In 1991 I won a scholarship from the British Government to study western art at the Kent Institute of Art and Design, Maidstone, University of Kent in England. I graduated with a first class Honours Degree in Communications Media (Design Pathway) in 1994. I continued working for the government and took an early retirement in 1997 to paint and founded VAST Bhutan with two other artists. Till date VAST has tutored and counseled more than 2000 young people ranging from delinquents, high school students to out of school youth.

I have acquired a wide range of experiences in both styles and methods which can be instrumental in combining the rigorous and structured traditional style with more easily flowing/expressive form of contemporary art. This helps me to mature in a direction that I am comfortable with and uniquely my own.

Bhutanese subjects and Buddhist iconography are my main themes with combination of modern and traditional techniques as I have an enduring fascination for textures, movements and many symbols in the Bhutanese culture. I have been exploring this aspect ranging from temple walls to spiritual horses that we see on prayer flags.

As the torch-bearer of Contemporary Art in Bhutan, I am fully engaged in dedicating myself to the issue of Bhutanese contemporary art and helping the youth of Bhutan. With full support and dedication from my students and fellow artists we would like to take Bhutanese art to new heights without compromising our age old traditional art.

Through Layers of Paints

What he shares with the young children today might have been what he wanted for himself way back in the late 1960s. Not so naughty, but naughty all the same, a bit on the impish side! Like all other young boys,he was just another little “Lungtenzampa Lobda” boy, circa mid-1970s, when he found academics too heavy and decided to leave school. In those days, the Manpower Expert’s Office, the precursor to the present RCSC, was literally inundating school drop-outs with offers to join its ranks. But he chose a different path preferring to be an artist. Art, then, was not even listed as an honourable profession.

Art, in Bhutanese tradition, was always anonymous. Creating a work of art then was an act of worship. So it is for Kama too, but it also gave his creative bent of mind the freedom to experiment, which at times verged on irreverence.

The journey from Lhazo ( traditional art ) to contemporary Bhutanese art is not a long one; it is younger than Kama himself. Perhaps, Carolyn Jill Tshering, who introduced him to colours, and Sen Gupta, the art teacher in the erstwhile Thimphu Public School, must have greatly influenced the path Kama took . But the style, strokes and texture are entirely his own, inspired by a muse he alone can identify with.

What does he want to convey? Well, his art is grounded in Buddhism and he wants to share his impressions of Buddhist philosophy through stylized representations as in the Wind Horse, or oblique emphasis on the importance of Speech (gSung) as the Dharma or the Words of Buddha, by prominently displaying the texts ( Lentza Script ).

His art says a lot. One only needs to be slightly discerning. He likes to play with the perspective – juxtapose the far and the near, and the ancient and the modern, and thereby create a fusion that is contemporary Bhutanese art. His art connects him to many people from many different backgrounds. Most of all, it connects him closely with the children, for whom he established VAST, where they explore their artistic vision. This comes from his attachment to his numerous nephews and nieces.

Besides his art and children, he cares for the environment and worries about plastic and other non-biodegradable wastes polluting not only our immediate living space, but also the forests and water systems. All these are visible on his canvas, wherein the man and his life are reflected….. If we can only see through the layers of paints.

K.B.Lama is a Bhutanese media pundit, writer and art critic.

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