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"Experiment with Forms: Tenzing Rigdol"
2009-02-11 until 2009-03-27
Rossi and Rossi
London, , UK United Kingdom

Experiment with Forms: Tenzing Rigdol comprises some 20 works by this Tibetan artist, now resident in the USA, and includes paintings, drawings, photographs, sculpture and a video installation. This exhibition, the first solo show by the artist in Europe, will be staged by Rossi & Rossi at 16 Clifford Street, Mayfair, London W1, from 11 February to 27 March 2009. Tenzing Rigdol was born in 1982 in Kathmandu, Nepal, and studied art and art history at the University of Colorado, USA. He has extensively studied Tibetan sand painting, butter sculpture and Buddhist philosophy in Kathmandu, gained a degree in Tibetan traditional thangka painting and is a published poet. In 2002, he and his family were granted political asylum in the USA and they now live in the Bronx, New York City. 

Rigdol’s paintings are the product of collective influences and interpretations of age-old traditions; they are influenced by philosophy, often address the issues of human conflict and have strong political undertones. Politics is an unavoidable element in his art.  Experiment with Forms will be Rigdol’s first solo exhibition but over the past four years he has participated in exhibitions in London, Hong Kong, Shanghai, New York and several other American cities.

The seven-minute video, entitled Scripture Noodle, is a performance inspired by the Buddhist saying: “Don’t be the bowl that carries the soup, be the mouth that gulps it”. Tenzing Rigdol responded: “That’s ironically interesting with respect to the many religious practices that are found within the Tibetan communities”. In the video, the artist cuts a Buddhist text into thin strips, then chops up herbs and vegetables before cooking them all in a wok and finally eating the unusual stir-fry from a polystyrene take-away box. 

The title of the sculpture, This is not a chair, is reminiscent of the famous painting of a pipe, Ceci n’est pas une pipe, by the great Surrealist artist René Magritte. As Rigdol said: “I wondered if I could change the functionality of a clearly defined object by adding other values to it.  In this case, I covered the chair with Tibetan Buddhist scriptures and asked myself if this could still be a chair?  Perhaps it is a chair which one cannot use to sit on, or maybe someone can sit on it while others cannot, depending on their own mental disposition.”   

Each of Rigdol’s paintings has a distinct meaning and philosophy behind it. Of Mandala of Harmony, Rigdol writes: “Like many, I have always been very sensitive to the issues of violence.  I think that an act of violence whether on a domestic or on a national level can only be defined as an irrational act, period.  So I thought why not create a painting about it.”  

A more cheerful idea is behind Mic-key, Nya-key and Mickey Mandala, a play on words as phonetically ‘Mickey’ in Tibetan language means people are happy, and ‘Nya-key’ means I am happy. Rigdol therefore used these fortuitous coincidences to paint a mandala of happiness using the iconic image of Mickey Mouse. 

Of Mandala of Kids, Ridgdol said: “Sometimes I feel that deep down we are all kids … maybe grownup kids and when it comes to watching cartoons I am definitely a kid.  My childhood reminds me of my mother’s favorite colour - purple!  She would have me and my younger brother all covered in purple clothes.  Even the sweaters, socks, gloves and mufflers that she arduously wove were all in purple.  So the colour purple has become the colour of my childhood and I used it as the base for this painting.  It is cold yet clean and innocent.  I think that we all have similar traces of it.” 

Rossi & Rossi was founded in London in 1985 by Anna Maria Rossi who has been active in the field of Asian art for over 30 years. In 1988 she was joined by her son Fabio who started travelling to Asia with his parents at an early age and moved to London in 1983 to attend the School of Oriental and African Studies. Together, Anna Maria and Fabio have established a reputation as leading dealers in traditional Indian and Himalayan art as well as contemporary Asian art. Among their clients are such institutions as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Cleveland Museum of Art, the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and the Tokyo National Museum as well as the White Rabbit Collection, Australia, and the Devi Foundation, India.                                                   

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