Pema Rinzin’s Contemporary Paintings Adapt Thangka Techniques

by Andy SmithPosted on

Born in Tibet and raised in Dharamsala, India, Pema Rinzin uses centuries-old thangka techniques to create contemporary works. The result are fresh, gorgeous renderings in ground mineral pigments, Sumi ink, and gold. Rinzin’s personal charge is to bring an education on Tibetan art to the public and schools across the world.

Rinzin’s mastery of the form comes from tutelage under the likes of Kalsang Oshoe, Khepa Gonpo, Rigdzin Paljor, and others. He now teaches those techniques and applications himself, along with several other disciplines. As for his Western influences, he cites William Blake, Gustav Klimt, and Wassily Kandinsky. Rinzin started the New York Tibetan Art Studio in 2007, offering a voice and education venue for a form rarely taught in the States.

Rinzin’s own work is really an adaption of thangka, which traditionally had paintings on cotton or silk applique. While the classical subjects may be mandalas, deities, or religions scenes with meditational purposes, Rinzin’s work diverges into new explorations, yet still reflect his spirituality. He explains his rendering of birds in a statement: “Since mankind was born, wings have been one of the most inspirational symbols… In Tibetan philosophy in particular, the enlightened beings have wings. All of these paintings are a solid inspiration about a universe of joy.”

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