The Joshua Liner Gallery in Chelsea is presenting an incredible collection of new paintings by Pema Rinzin for the show Wings of Joy. Rinzin specializes in traditional Thangka painting, a style of painting frequently practiced in Tibet and popular in Buddhist culture. Rinzin uses ground mineral pigments, gold, and Sumi ink on canvas in his paintings that focus on notions of peace, joy, and inspiration with most of the subjects revolving around different types of birds.
“The main message of [this exhibition] is inspiration. Since mankind was born, wings have been one of the most inspirational symbols… In Tibetan philosophy in particular, the enlightened beings have wings. All of these paintings are a solid inspiration about a universe of joy,” Rinzin explains. For this show, Rinzin offers 13 paintings divided into five series. For instance, Rinzin’s Bird Mandala series consists of three paintings with a bull’s eye pattern of circles in the center with birds and other creatures hovering over and each painting has a different color background. Circles made from gold and lapis lazuli can also be found on the bull’s eye structure.
Another intriguing series is his Peace Booom series of two painting, both of which feature heaps of fabric floating in the air like magic carpets. Rinzin’s Wings of Joy series consists of two large-scale paintings both featuring assortments of birds like pheasants and cranes engulfing the canvas with gold and white circles spread throughout. Rinzin’s objective with his work is to provide inspiration for the people of Tibet. “Since I was born, Tibet has been lost and all Tibetan people have faced many problems but we have never lost hope. It is my hope, my uplifting joy to have wings for every Tibetan. The wings are there to be found even if you have no hope left.”
Rinzin was born in Tibet and grew up in India where he trained with master Thangka painters including Kalsang Oshoe, Khepa Gonpo, and Rigdzin Paljor. He then taught Renaissance, Impressionist, Abstract Expressionist art, and cartoon drawing for eight years at the Tibetan Children’s Village School in Dharamsala. In addition to his Thangka influences, Rinzin also credits the work of Western artists such as Gustav Klimt and Wassily Kandinsky as being inspirational to his style. Rinzin was the first Tibetan artist in residence at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York, earning recognition after his work was featured in a 2010 group exhibition at the museum. He also founded the New York Tibetan Art Studio in 2007, which is the only school in New York to date that focuses on teaching and preserving the technique of Thangka painting. Rinzin’s work can be found in numerous public and private collections across the country and around the world.
At The Joshua Liner Gallery, 540 W. 28th St., through Apr. 16. The gallery is open Tues.—Sat. from 11 a.m.—6 p.m.