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Is there a Contemporary in Ladakhi Art?

Curatorial Intensive South Asia, Khoj 
at IIC, New Delhi 2022

Curated by Abeer Gupta

This exhibition locates contemporary art practices in Ladakh through the work of five emerging artists. Notions of culture, heritage and identity, resonate within rapid transformations in urbanity and materiality. Their practices are poised between commercial projects in art and design and developing a repertoire defined by a specific choice of materials, forms, narratives and themes.


Ladakh in the recent decade has developed a significant space within mainstream representation and a set of visual tropes occupies popular imaginations – each artist in this show presents a visual interpretation which helps us challenge some of those stereotypes.


Art and craft practices at the peripheries often negotiates classifications such as folk, tribal, or the indigenous, ensconced within dominant histories and mytholo-
gies of religions or regions. This showcase attempts a counter point and aspires for a nuanced understanding of some contemporary concerns.

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Please click to expand.

Chemat Dorjey

In Memory, Chemat recreates a toy, he and his friends made as children; wrapped in a precious ceremonial scarf – the Khatags and the Phang – wooden spindles used in Ladakh, which has developed into a leitmotif in his artworks. It alludes to the culture of recycling and embodies the material culture of his childhood. The Benevolent Gaze executed in dokra – a form of metal casting prevalent in central India, is an exploration of local motifs and forms that allude to his home as a crossroad of goods and ideas.

A sculptor by training, he is a gold medallist from the Institute of Music and Fine Arts, University of Jammu. Upon completion of his masters from the Faculty of Visual Arts, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, he exhibited his sculptures in a solo show, Mountain Rhythms, in 2017 at the Lalit Kala Akademi (National Academy of Art) Rabindra Bhavan, New Delhi. Chemat set up the Spindle Art Studio and Café, in 2018, and is a founder member of KANGSING, a collective to promote snow and ice art in Ladakh. He has worked extensively as an illustrator for Stawa Magazine, Leh, has participated in several group shows, and his works are in the collection of Amar Mahal Museum and Library, Jammu, Ladakh Art and Media Organisation (LAMO), Leh, the Jammu & Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages, Leh, Dr. Shakuntala Mishra National Rehabilitation Centre and University, Lucknow and the Lalit Kala Academy, Delhi. He was the recipient of the the Commemorate Award at the 24th Harbin International Snow Sculpture competition 2019, China and the dPal-rNgam Dus-sTon award by Lt. Governor of Union Territory of Ladakh, 2019.

Tundup Dorjay Churpon

Tundup’s ceramics explores materials from nature and issues of the contemporary world. They dwell within the precarious balance of the modern and the traditional and question the demarcation between fine and applied art. Self Portrait and Journey are explorations at the intersection of his upbringing within classical religious art and his training in design at the modernist center of visual arts. Resurgence marks Tundup’s return to his roots, a diverse and complex history of visual representation.

Tundup completed this post-graduation in 2019 & graduated in 2017 in Ceramic and Glass Art from the Department of Visual Arts, Kala Bhavan, Visva Bharti University, Shantiniketan, West Bengal. He has participated in various group shows such as the Burapha International Ceramic Exhibition in 2022, Woodcut Print Workshop & Exhibition, at the Spindle Art Studio, Ladakh Literature Festival, Old Town, Leh, Ladakh and Apotheosis, Ceramic Artwork, Group Exhibition. Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata, West Bengal, in 2019 and Pen and Ink Drawings, solo exhibition, Tibet Heritage Fund, Old Town, Leh, Ladakh in 2010. He has also displayed and sold his ceramic wares in Dilli Haat in New Delhi.

Tashi Namgail

If the white glacier doesn't freeze over the high mountain pastures,
How shall a turquoise- hued lake thrive in lower valleys?
If a turquoise-hued lake doesn't thrive in lowlands,
Where shall the sandalwood sprout?
If sandalwood doesn't sprout,
Where shall the king of birds perch?
If the king of the birds does not perch on it,
Then who will sing in different melodies?
If no one sings in different melodies,
Then how will the beloved be amused?

 

This diptych is inspired by a Ladakhi folksong.

The folksong for the artist, is an embodiment of his ancestors’ mind. A mind that reflects the close linkages and its interdependence with the natural environment. The artist has created a plethora of works around folksongs of Ladakh, this is one among them.

 

Tashi is trained as a painter, at the College of Art, Delhi, and the Benaras Hindu University, Varanasi. He has an expansive repertoire as an illustrator, and several public art projects and murals, and is in the process of restoring Abdu house and setting it
up setting up as Huedok Studio and Gallery.

Jigmet Angmo

This work is an interpretation of an episode from the Epic of Kesar. On one of his several ventures to protect his land, King Kesar of Ling is on a quest to capture and kill the demon king, Akyung Gyalpo. Kesar reaches three castles made of gold, turquoise, and copper before he reaches the abode of the demon king– the Iron castle (lChags Khar), which floats 100 miles up in the sky. On reaching, he finds the demon king out on a hunt for several months, while his human wife Dzesemo/ Bomza Bomskit is left behind, chained and locked in the castle cell – she embodies the suffering of women.

 

Born and raised (mostly) in the cold Himalayan desert region of Ladakh, the rugged landscape with its barren mountains, deep valleys, and high plains, developed a strong sense of wonder and imagination in Jigmet Angmo, which she explores within these very surreal settings. Vernacular architecture has been a central theme in her work, mostly using watercolours and acrylic. She believes them to be a living, breathing shelter that watches, nourishes, and endures the people who have come and gone through time.