The Kingdom of Bhutan is an extremely green country, with a low population density, beautiful biodiversity and is the only ‘carbon sink’ in the world. It boasts intreging Buddhist monasteries, subtropical rainforests and soaring Himalayan peaks, placing it at the very top of my bucket list.
This is how I stumbled upon Linda Leaming’s website, which lead me discovering Phurba Namgay’s gallery of beautiful art for myself. Namgay fuses the classic art style of his country but modernises his paintings by inserting modern topics and images. This fusion soon becomes rather obvious if you realise that Linda Leaming is the wife of Phurba, publishing several books about her adventure’s in Bhutan, as she is actually from Tennessee. Phurba Namgay is a classically trained Thanka painter, this means that he follows a traditional form that hasn’t been changed in around 400 years, due to Bhutan being very self contained until the 1970s. Thanka is a Tibetan Buddhist style painting of, usually deities, onto cotton or silk, means they are often left unframed and can be rolled up when not on display. They are often very important, helping to depict the life of Bhudda and his teachings.
However, due to his marriage with Linda his work has been exposed to American culture, hence why space shuttles and cityscapes feature heavily amongst the traditional scenery. This makes for artwork that is unlike anything you’ll have seen before. I’ve been fortunate enough to have be exposed to Bhuddist art in its natural setting, so I’m fairly familiar with it, and know roughly what to expect, whilst I also feel that I’ve been introduced to quite a wide variety of Western art. This makes Namgay’s paintings feel oddly familiar and surreal at the same time, combining two innately recognisable forms but ingeniously, and delicately, integrating them into pieces that you can’t take your eyes off, they’re absolutely hypnotic. It’ll be fascinating to see where he goes next.
You can find more of his stunning artwork here.