Tsherin Sherpa, Two Spirits
2010 - Gouache, acrylic and gold leaf on paper
66 x 109 cm (26 x 43 in)
Private collection, courtesy the artist and Rossi & Rossi Ltd.
Tsherin Sherpa was born in 1968 in Kathmandu, Nepal. He studied thangka painting from the age of twelve under the skillful guidance of his father, Master Urgen Dorje, a renowned thangka artist from Ngyalam, Tibet. After six years of intense formal training, Tsherin went to Taiwan to study Mandarin and computer science. Three years later, he returned to Nepal and resumed working with his father in numerous projects that included painting thangkas and monastery murals.
1998 he moved to the USA working as a thangka artist and as an instructor at The Healing Buddha Center in California. Presently, he lives in Oakland, California where he continues to paint thangkas and to offer classes in thangka painting. In recent years he has expanded his traditional paintings using his immaculate and precise technique. For his subject matter he has imagined what would happen if the demons and spirits of his family's home country - Tibet - had travelled the world as he has, feeling displaced within a globalised world and living in the USA. He has exhibited in Asia and the USA, notably in the ground breaking exhibition Tradition Transformed: Tibetan Artists Respond, at the Rubin Museum of Arts, New York, USA. He was also included in the first museum survey of Tibetan art in China, Scorching Sun of Tibet, at the Songzhuang Art Center, Beijing. Autumn 2012 will see his first solo European show at Rossi & Rossi in London.
The painting depicts two random Buddhist protectors transformed into human shape. The butterflies symbolize the transformation (egg, larva, pupa to adult). The idea of alphabet blocks was inspired by the information that most of the monks in the monasteries in Nepal and India these days are taught English. From the Buddhist point of view or from the perspective of enlightenment, this is an irony, since all the essential Buddhist texts are in Tibetan. Moreover, the very idea of becoming a renunciant is to detach oneself from the existing society in the search of enlightenment. But from the social perspective, it is almost impossible to isolate oneself from the social norms. Thus, perhaps it becomes important for the monks to learn English (a global language) to be able to assimilate themselves into this global society. Furthermore, in the west, I come across more and more younger Tibetans who do not speak Tibetan. The gravity of the diverse cultural integration and it's impact becomes even more evident in these experiences.