Losang Gyatso
(b. 1953)
Clear Light Tara
2009
Limited edition
Photographic print on paper
Courtesy of the artist

What do you see being transformed?

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24 Responses to “Clear Light Tara”

  1. Antoinette says:

    I love the way this treatment gives a luminous quality to the traditional Tara, instead of focusing on the details we really see her as clear light!

    • losang.gyatso says:

      I’m very happy that you like her. My intention was to get beyond the iconography, costume/jewelry, landscape environment, and indeed the hand of the artist itself. You might like to imagine it as a single frame in a film strip that has no beginning or end.

  2. Harry says:

    My perception changes according to how close I a stand to this piece. From across the room, I can see the general shape of the composition and can make out discrete shapes. As I move closer, the disctinction between figures falls away and becomes a jumble of multicolored dots– a mass of unreadable information. Still closer, and the faint white outlines of the original figures begin to appear. At first, I am unable to take in every detail and can only look from area to area. Gradually, I can see all of the figures emerging from their white lines. Suddenly the piece is alive, actively shifting between abstraction and definition. I am reminded of the process of visulization: a ubiquitous practice in vajrayana buddhism and the purpose for which most of the traditional artwork was intended. At first, one is only able to imagine bits and pieces of the deity– it is abstract, unclear, and often as flat as a thanka. With practice, one is able to perceive the deity as clear amd sharp, with every detail in place and imbued with life.Even at this point, though, the deity remains transparent, flexible, and ephemeral– it is not solid and unchanging, but made of clear light, the same essence as one’s own mind.

    • losang.gyatso says:

      Well Harry, it’s clear that you’re not spending too much time watching the ongoing World Cup football games. But seriously, I really appreciate the fact that you’ve actually looked carefully at this piece. That is the most that someone who makes a piece of art can expect from another person. Thank you.

  3. Jenny says:

    Do you make Mandalas?

  4. Annette Cohen says:

    Here is an expression of what is inexpressible! Feel the inner heart of the Buddha with the circles of color!

    • losang.gyatso says:

      Thank you Annette….I feel I should mention since the ‘title’ doesn’t, that this work is about 40 inches tall, which makes the circles and colors a stronger element of the picture than the image on your monitor would suggest. Please see the actual piece if you’re in NYC and visit my website to see some other pieces in this series.

  5. morgonn says:

    Alive beyond words.
    A gift to the heart.

    • losang.gyatso says:

      I’m so glad you used the word ‘alive’, because that’s exactly the word I would choose to also describe fine traditional Tibetan Thangkas, and I’m always surprised that many people describe Thangkas as being static.

  6. anonomys says:

    awww. so cuteeee..:)

  7. Norbu says:

    It is a wonderful creative secret.

    • losang.gyatso says:

      Coming close to the presence of a ‘secret’ and suggesting a sense of what it might be is all we can do through art I suppose. I appreciate your comment very much.

  8. Neil says:

    The hopefulness of Losang’s comments that his art can have the educative potential to help those in cultural free fall, in both the east and west is the embodiment of the kind of gifts that his art offers to us all.

    • losang.gyatso says:

      Neil, that’s very kind of you to say. My interest is in trying to locate the threads between past and present, and exploring possible conceptual spaces in the future that can accommodate some of the core. Once these bearings are recovered and soundings appreciated, I think we have the freedom to go wherever and change however much we want without losing our way.

  9. Gendun C. says:

    So beautiful. I see a strong affinity for Jetsun Dolma (Tara), the subject of this work, as well as the original Thangka painting that is the source. I was very touched to see both his piece and the original old painting at the Rubin last week. While many of the other artworks in the show involved the artists adding to or changing Tibetan subjects and forms, which can also be interesting too, Lobsang Gyatso seems to have simply subtracted information in his search for something more universal. I got the sense that everything was there and not there at the same time. I wonder if this is an intentional comment on the political reality in Tibet?

    • losang.gyatso says:

      Yes you’re right, I love Tara and I love fine old Thangkas. And you’re also right that my interest in making this piece was to take away as much as possible while still keeping something I can feel the same amount of love and awe for as the original painting. But I cannot take responsibility for your last conjecture, although I appreciate your taking that meaning. If the saying is true that an artwork is rarely finished but merely abandoned, than I suppose every viewer of a piece of art is free to finish it themselves, and in that sense, your take on my piece is as valid as mine. I’m specially glad to see a Tibetan (assuming you are one) engaging himself with my work. Tashi Delek.

  10. jampa barshee says:

    cyber-dot expressionism…..

    ok since you are into dharma theme let me quote from. ‘Liberation in the palm of your Hand’ from Pabongka Rimpoche. It’s related to the twelve link.

    Name and form

    ‘ ….the name link is the four aggregates of feeling, recognition, compositional factors and consciousness’

    well what do you say if that doesn’t apply to art….

    Ha ha ha

    Jampa barsheee

    • losang.gyatso says:

      That’s fascinating jampa la. I wonder if ‘compositional factors’ could be taken to mean aesthetics? I must look into the book. Thanks.

  11. Quatre Tsien says:

    Losang, saw this piece in person for the first time today.. I must admit that I was floored.

    It feels like there’s a duality of purpose in the piece. You really feel this immensity of hope and purpose, something that’s transcended cultures and the tradition of Thangka painting.

    Contrasting, when the Tara transposed cross-culturally into this sort of Western ‘digital environment’, we see an obfuscation of the details. A ‘quick glance’ no longer reveals the subject matter.. and most people in society only take quick glances now. And that’s very interesting.. it speaks to the crisis of shallowness that has been taking over our digital civilization.. and creates a sort of parallel in art.

    Ultimately, I interpret it as both a beacon of hope and a warning.

    • losang.gyatso says:

      I’m very moved by your comments and happy that you’ve experienced these sensibilities. I must admit that while I can feel very strongly about a piece of work I’m working on and direction I’m taking it, I’m probably not fully clear at all on how, why and what it is that causes me to do so. This is not an effort to sound mystical or obtuse, but it’s in the way I work. I have a feeling or an half formed visual idea and then plunge ahead and let it take shape without too much over thinking…. and then it’s done and finished. But I really recognize in your observations about the inadequacy of quick glances and the crises of shallowness, some of the ideas I was playing with in trying to explore a New York museum goer’s experience as his/her life intersects for a few seconds with the visual manifestations of the Tibetan inner sciences in the form of a single Thangka on a wall. And it’s not some lethargic and casual pass by, like one might experience in seeing a third tier Constable seascape, but a feeling more like two trains passing each other at high speed. Harmless but with the rush of potential violence. Sometimes a quick glance is perhaps all we’re prepared to give unless we’re prepared to face the consequences.

  12. Minet says:

    My interest for the piece is that she stays in the today’s light.
    And I can not categorize the space where she stays.
    I think these are very beautiful things.

    • losang.gyatso says:

      She stays in the light of each and every moment and in the spaces where something is not. Thanks for your appreciation.