oil on canvas
167 x 220 cm
Tibetan Museum (2008) continues a series of works inspired by the artist’s travels in the region. We see a corner of a room, painted with carefully modulated tones and strong shadows reminiscent of an interior by the American Edward Hopper. Against one red-painted, rough-hewn wall, ceremonial objects including Hongying Qiang (spears representing the revolutionary armed forces) and Tibetan banners are juxtaposed with utilitarian objects. The space depicted is based on a very old local museum that the artist saw in Qinghai, to which he has added other, imagined elements. An incongruously non-Tibetan painting of Chinese boats on a river hangs from the picture rail, and the adjoining wall features a large framed poster of the famous painting Chairman Mao Goes to Anyuan by Liu Chunhua. Created for a propaganda exhibition in 1967, this painting became central to Mao’s personality cult: it is estimated that 900 million posters of the painting were printed, and it can still be found all over China. Here, draped with a yellow hada (a ceremonial silk shawl), it’s a not-so-subtle pointer to Chinese influence in the Tibet Autonomous Region, hanging next to a scroll featuring calligraphy – ironically, the Chinese character for ‘Buddha’. Carved stone fragments are stacked on a wooden bench below. The effect of the whole is of a jumbled store-room rather than a museum, perhaps an elegy for an endangered culture.