February 3 – March 11, 2017
The exhibition Double Vision showcases 20 fascinating new light boxes by Kesang Lamdark. The son of a Rinpoche (high-ranking reincarnated dignitary in the context of Tibetan Buddhism) brought up in Switzerland, Lamdark's works explore issues surrounding identity and self-placement between East and West and the Tibetan situation. His characteristic LED-illuminated boxes, featuring motifs engraved in aluminium foil on a frontal pane of perspex, generate a mystical three-dimensional illumination effect.
Lamdark’s art draws on the secular and the sacred: it links quotes taken from rock and pop culture, such as in Disco Fever or Hell Rider, with the sombre inscrutability of symbols signifying impermanence, such as skulls and flames, as well as, by contrast, internet pornography. The artist’s general interest in the relationship between death, birth and sex permeates his oeuvre on a number of levels. In Pussy Mandala or Erotic Melt, the demonic and sexual dimensions of tantric Buddhism combine with the Neo-Tantra of the mainstream poses of seduction in Lamdark’s cosmos.
Although Lamdark adopts a Western pictorial idiom as well as Western motifs (at first glance, at least), many of the works exhibit the spiritual, Buddhist and biographical dimensions of a modern hybrid artist subject that draws on several traditions. Alongside works which are clearly rooted in the Tibetan context, such as those showing the artist riding on a yak (Yak Kesang), or portraying his father, a high-ranking religious dignitary, as an “eastern-Tibetan cowboy” of his rural homeland (Lamdark Rimpoche), he resorts to political allusions in the two large rectangular works Red Cloud over Potala and Potala Negative. Under the Chinese flag, the former seat of Tibetan government and residence of generations of Dalai Lamas has degenerated into a profane and museumised “Disneyland”, grieved over by Lamdark’s father (in the foreground of Red Cloud over Potala).
Kesang Lamdark is in that category of artists situated in a conflictual relation at the interface of modern Western life and cultural traditions – in this case Tibetan or Chinese: he is more global Tibetan than contemporary Tibetan artist.
Text: Regina Höfer