Back to All Events

Shangri-La! Hand painted Tibetan Thangka Paintings

Hand painted Mandala Tibetan Thangka Paintings in the Founders Room at the Bankhead Theater Gallery

March 6 – April 27

Opening Reception March 23, 1-3pm

Closing Reception April 27, 1:30-4:30pm

A spectacular display of Asian art will be exhibited within the Gallery at the Bankhead Theater for the next two months. Mounted in the Founder’s Room off the lobby, “Shangri-La” will include 15 hand-painted Thangka from Tibet. Curated by the Bothwell Arts Center and coordinated by Laihao Jiang, the exhibit is unique showcase of the exquisitely detailed work of artisans from Ganden Sumtseling Monastery. The exhibit opens March 6, 2019 in conjunction with the new “Wearable Art” exhibit in the Gallery.

According to local artist Laihao Jiang, Thangka are representative of the spiritual traditions of generations after generations of the people of Tibet. The wisdom and teachings of the Buddha, Prince Siddhartha Gautama, have deeply influenced the evolution of Asian civilizations over the past 2,500 years. Buddhism has played an important role in cultivating values and beliefs, fields of language and literature, development of art, and various aspects of our everyday life.

Preservation of the traditional Tibetan art of painting Thangkas can be traced back to as early as the Songtsen Gampo period (b.604AD). All Thangka have a Buddhism theme with content that includes such subjects as images of deities and Buddhas, historical events, and depictions of mandala (imaginary places used during meditation). Typically cotton canvases are painted with rare minerals such as gold, silver, pearl, agate, turquoise, malachite, cinnabar, and precious plant extracts such as saffron, rhubarb, and indigo. The artists must fulfill the spiritual practice requirement and follow sacred rules, based on the Sutra of Statue Making in Buddhism. “These ritualistic functions and methods of Thangka painting help bring the spiritual realm and significance to the material world, just like rain after a long drought,” said Jiang.

The collection on display at the Bankhead comes from Shangri-La, a place that was sought after for close to a century. Located in Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Yunan Province, Jiang says it is the harmonious paradise as described in fiction and carries on the authentic lineage of Thangka painting. “We were honored Tenzin Lama from the Ganden Sumtseling Monastery was consultant on the exhibit,” added Jiang. “We hope these Thangkas will help visitors experience the energy accumulated through thousands of years from this pure land.“ Each piece in the collection is priced and represents a unique opportunity to purchase a handpainted Thangka. 

Coordinated by: Laihao Jiang, Leyan Li, and Zhenghui Hu

Consultant: Tenzin Lama