Gonkar Gyatso
(b.1961)

Tibetan Idol 15
2006
Stickers and pencil on
treated paper
Private Collection

What do you see being transformed?

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12 Responses to “Tibetan Idol 15”

  1. David says:

    The idea of collecting. I can’t help remembering the sticker collection I worked so hard to amass when I was in middle school.

  2. max beyer says:

    I like the stickers. They are really nice and colorful. They make the Buddha look colorful and interesting and be about things I like, like SpongeBob and Thomas the Train. By the way, I am 5 years old and can you make Buddhas with more train stickers? Thank you.

  3. Tenzin Jamyang says:

    This work is really provocative and the artist, I believe, leaves it to open interpretation. Some times it can be seen as a critique of the western culture or sometimes the artist seems to concede the acceptance of buddha figure in Western Culture. For some a buddha figure is holy, for some its just a decorative object. If you look at the stickers, most of it are very well known, popular icons, almost of all of them cartoonish. The way I see is how the buddha figure is becoming one of these popular icons in the stickers in the western world. how is a painting or a sculpture of Buddha any holier than a mickey mouse toy? we dont take the characters corresponding to the stickers seriously because they dont exist. And I think we can say the same for Buddha. Why did the artist chose these disney and cartoon characters and not real personnels like actors, politician? May be these cartoon characters a more universality?

  4. tenzin says:

    very creative! :D

  5. huma says:

    lots of candies in a man. perfect!

  6. sabrina says:

    I liked the picture. I liked the princess stickers the most! It was a fun way for me to see a piece of art.

  7. Leo Quint says:

    I love it. I like the Thomas stickers. I like the other sitckers too.

  8. motoko says:

    really enjoyed your work at Rubin—

  9. gk says:

    from the little i’ve read of ken johnson’s nyt review of the show, i’m inclined to agree with him. i’ve been disappointed both times i saw it. i don’t think it communicates in interesting and provocative ways about a meeting of east and west. it seems that most of these artists are so interested in experimenting with formal elements that a conceptual depth is lost. for example, one artists decides to reduce tara mandala to its essential elements and produces something that looks like one photoshopped some colors over the mandala. it looks nice, but what does it really say? getting to some kind of essential through form is considered outdated in the west. maybe a difference of perspective is not getting communicated here.

    i think one artist here is great — gonkar gyatso. i’m not sure i needed to see the rest. the highlights for me are the “my identity” photographs, very witty and cheeky, and especially the minimalist serial rendition of the 14th century buddha on the wall. sometimes i was a bit disappointed in the wall text (though the rubin writes no worse than any other museum) which interprets “do what you love” as critiquing the standardization of mass culture. but i think there’s a lot more to this piece. gyatso engages artistic and conceptual issues with more depth than any other artist here. in “do what you love” i think he relates the standardization of traditional tibetan art, where proportions are often dictated by scripture, to the industrial standardization of minimalist seriality. that’s pretty cute. and there’s something beautiful about that work. the light hits each buddha differently (again, the minimalist exploration of perception) and the work forms many triangles. it’s great to look at it from the bardo exhibit on the 5th floor to get a better sense of its patterns. i think gonkar gyatso is a really inventive and creative artist, but the attempts to “update” thangka paintings fell flat for me.
    –glk

  10. Kitsune says:

    I see buddhism being transformed by the 21st century. These stickers, individually, depict many of the staples within our popular culture. It looks as though the stickers are coming together, with all their meaning to our day-and-age, to form the head of the Buddha.

  11. mateo says:

    really interesting piece. i see traditional culture being stripped away and it’s really provacative. thank you.

  12. Patricia Ormsby says:

    I think “Tibetan Idol 15″ is marvelous! I was just scrolling through images after typing in “Contemporary Buddhist Artists” and this appeared; it stood out from everything else. I feel this is a definitive piece, not just ‘pretty’, which it is, but marvelously creative as well. I haven’t seen the show at the Rubin, so I can’t comment upon the individual stickers included in its makeup, but it is certainly and lovely and inventive piece. Hope it can be made into a print for sale.