Friday, March 3, 2017

Tibetan artist barred from Macau after Beijing's intervention

Tibetan artist barred from Macau after Beijing's intervention
Phayul[Tuesday, February 28, 2017 21:53]
By Tenzin Dharpo and Tenzin Monlam
Tashi poses in front of his Sculpture of URBAN BUDDHA “Be the Flower Not the Bee” 15 ft at Grand Park/Skate Park, Chicago/2016/file
Tashi poses in front of his Sculpture of URBAN BUDDHA “Be the Flower Not the Bee” 15 ft at Grand Park/Skate Park, Chicago/2016/file
DHARAMSHALA, FEB. 28: A Tibetan artist has reportedly been barred from entering the Macau SAR (Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China), an autonomous territory of China, for a live art show after “pressure from (Chinese) govt. officials”.

Netherland based Tibetan artist Tashi Norbu was scheduled to do a live-painting performance at Lilau Square on Sunday for the iAOHiN Amber Gallery. He cancelled his trip after he was informed by the gallery curator that it was too risky for him to attend the event following objection from officials from the China Liaison office which deemed the artist’s work controversial. The artist turned back from Hong Kong from where he was to enter Macau.

Tashi was cited by Hong Kong Free Press as saying, “I was very sad, because I am very much focused on my art, and focused on showing the artistic culture of my country. In my art, there’s no political issue. I don’t want to show any activism in my art.”

The 43-year old Tibetan contemporary artist known for infusing modern touches into traditional Tibetan painting form was to do a live- painting of a Fire- Rooster, symbolic of the New Year as per Lunar calendar followed both by Chinese and Tibetan astrology, as the opening was to take place on the eve. “ On that day, I was told I cannot paint even [my] Fire Rooster by the Macau government officials because Rooster looks like the map of China and I may not paint that,” he said.

iAOHiN Gallery’s curator, Simon Lam, in a press release expressed his regrets that a great opportunity for the Macau public to see this talented artist’s work has been lost. He stated, “I am personally very disappointed with authorities’ attitude to arts and seeing it as a threat, banning what is nothing else than pure art performance. This is not what Macau should be doing, censorship is simply wrong, and in this case it simply cannot be justified as Tashi has been allowed to perform in Hong Kong last week without any problems.”

“What Macau has denied us here is the ability to promote art. China is engaging with the world economically and with that is the expectation we can engage with China culturally. It’s a decision that I think does not make sense. All I can express is my profound disappointment and concern for him, and I also want to ensure that when the event gets under way today, I will be doing what I can to get his views out there to mark what happened and to honor him,” Lam further said.

iAOHiN Gallery received over MOP 1 Million (HK$970,870) last year in a subsidy from the government’s Cultural Industries Fund. Tashi’s presence at the event, sources said, could have impeded further funding from the government.

Beside the cancelled performance, Tashi’s artworks shipped to the museum have been kept in
storage and won’t be showcased to comply with the officials’ directives.