Contemporary Art

The principal part of the exhibition will showcase unique and traditional examples of Tibetan Buddhist Art and culture; this will be complemented by an exhibition showcasing a selection of responses to this traditional art by contemporary artists.

By displaying the traditional next to the modern, the exhibition creates an interesting dynamic and draws connections between two different cultures. Through careful examination of the traditional artefacts, modern artists skilfully comment on their relevance to modern life.

The pioneer of conceptual art Marcel Duchamp defined art as ‘making’. He said: “The word ‘art’ interests me very much. If it comes from Sanskrit, as I’ve heard, it signifies ‘making’.’’ He was probably referring to the ancient Indo-European root, ar, which meant to join or fit. It is the root of the Sanskrit word am, which signifies the spoke or radius of a wheel (among other things). In Buddhism, the wheel is associated with the phrase ‘turning the wheel of the dharma’. This is defined as the liberating truth set in motion by the Buddha. Duchamp said that his ‘Bicycle Wheel’, which he made in 1913 by attaching a wheel to a stool, was an experiment for his own personal use and wasn’t intended to be a work of art. After losing the original piece, Duchamp remade ‘Bicycle Wheel’ in 1916 and authorized creation of twelve more versions and replicas.

Understanding the mind and exploring the concept of emptiness in Buddhist practice had a strong impact on conceptual art in the 50s, 60s and 70s. These influences can also be seen in works of contemporary art by artists such as Klein, Cage and Barry. Strongly influenced as well were post and neo conceptual artists of the late 90s, as well as 21st century artists.



A highlight of the exhibition is ten modern pieces generously loaned from the British Council.
Download a pdf with British Council collection items and descriptions

Britsih Council

Joe Tilson, Alcheringa 4 – Earth, 1971

Britsih Council

Langlands & Bell, WWW, 1999

Britsih Council

Dermot O'brien, LUMINESCENCE III, 1995