The nine oversized paintings shown in this exhibition are all the work of one extraordinary 69-year-old Buddhist monk named Shashi Dhoj Tulachan, a second generation thangka artist living in Tuksche, a remote village located in Mustang, Nepal's northernmost district adjacent to Tibet.
Shashi Dhoj Tulachan has devoted much of his life to the restoration of a nearby 16th century gompa (Tibetan monastery) known as the Chhairo Gompa.
He is part of a local initiative, the Kali Gandaki Foundation Trust, which is dedicated to raising money to preserve the Chhairo Gompa.
The practice of thangka painting is centuries old and is an art carried out by highly trained monks for the purpose of teaching about Buddha and the tenets of the Buddhist religion. The overwhelming amount of detailed imagery in each painting includes deities, mythologies, and the use of repeated and abstracted design. For those seeking enlightenment, thangka paintings exist as objects of meditation.
The paintings in this collection are not thangkas in the traditional sense. Thangkas are usually much smaller and are rolled on canvas so that they can be easily transported and hung anywhere for teaching. The thangkas exhibited here are similar in size to mural paintings found in monasteries. These paintings also deviate from the rules for the creation of a thangka where the exact use of color, shape, proportion, characteristics and qualities of the imagery are all strictly regulated.
Shashi Dhoj Tulachan has painted this set of images by combining the traditional motifs of one of the foremost schools recognized by high-level monks in Tibet today, the Tibetan Karma Ghadri School, with images that are purely and cleverly of his imagination. The vibrant colors he used are made from natural mineral pigments.