In Conversation with Tashi Namgyal, Painter

By Stanzin Dasal Leh, Apr 23, 2021
Leh :

Q. When did you decide to be an artist and how did you develop an interest in art?
I grew up seeing the paintings of my father, his work inspired me and that is how I decided to be an artist. After my schooling, I pursued Bachelor in Fine Arts from the College of Arts, Delhi, and a Master in Fine Arts from Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi. During those six years, I learned to observe and perceive things differently. My father once told me, “If you have a passion in your life, consistent in pursuing it or else that passion fades away”.
I am grateful for the support of my parents and family members to make me believe and pursue it further.  
Q. Can you talk about what you’re trying to communicate with the elements in your work?
I mostly work on figurative painting and try to communicate the interdependent relationship between nature and human beings. There is a perception among many people that nature is vast than a human being or vice-versa. Through my work, I want to convey the bond between these two elements which shows how incomplete one is without the other. 
While in college, I explored both the positive and negative values of the subjective themes that I wanted to paint. Usually, I feel that it’s important to understand the negative aspect of a subject, in order to bring out the value of the positive aspect of the same. 
In 2016, I interpreted the Ladakhi folksong, ‘Chorten spara spurey’ on yamangs with acrylic paints. This project inclined me towards understanding the essence of Ladakhi folksongs, which I believe conveys a lot of stories about our unsung history and culture. 
Currently, I am working on a Brokpa series, where I draw inspiration from their folksongs and practices. Paintings on, songs about their migration to Ladakh, hunting songs, songs on a harvest festival, songs on women are some of my existing artworks and I plan to create more works around this theme of folk culture throughout the region of Ladakh. 
Q. What mediums do you work with?
I work on canvas using oil, acrylic, and watercolors. I have also used a lot of mixed mediums like hay, ash, clay, cloth, stones including other natural elements. I wish to explore more in terms of mediums when my inspiration draws me towards it. 
Q. Where you have exhibited your work? Share with us the experiences and achievements.
I participated in many group exhibitions, titled, ‘On the Earth-Ladakh’ with SEOMI (Korean artist group) at Ladakh Arts and Media Organization (LAMO), Leh in 2017; ‘The Inner Path’ at Alliance Francaise, New Delhi (2016); exhibited paintings at the ‘Bird Festival of Ladakh’ at LAMO, Leh (2017) and showcased a group installation at the student biennale in Kochi Muziris Biennale, Kerala. Apart from painting, I also participated in the International Snow sculpture competition at the Harbin Snow Festival, Harbin, China with a team of four members from Ladakh called ‘Kangsing’ in 2019.
Each exhibition is a platform to learn and improve one’s work as an artist. You get the opportunity to explore and learn from other co-artist. I am still learning to make my work more expressive. 
I also received the national scholarship for painting from the Ministry of Culture, Government of India (2016). 
Q. What do you have to say about ancient and traditional artwork? What has to be done to revive, develop and promote the ancient artwork?
Earlier, to learn traditional art, people travelled to far-off places like Tibet, wherein without any references, the work of artists was disproportionate, and with each teacher or master the style of artwork also changed a bit. These days, the knowledge of an artist is not just limited to one’s teacher but influences from the internet are also visible in traditional artworks. Earlier traditional artists used natural pigments, like soil, different minerals, herbs, plants to extract colour, but nowadays synthetic colours are more in use. These are the things I have observed. 
As for the question of reviving traditional art, it is still in good practice in Ladakh. Nowadays people can afford to buy more elaborate traditional artworks for their prayer rooms (Chodkhang); as compared to people in earlier times when limited households could afford to have a proper prayer room with statues and paintings. 
Q. Do we have a scope in this field? What advice you will give the young aspiring artists?
Yes, there is scope in this field, if only you are good at what you do. There are many art colleges and universities throughout India as well as abroad. ‘Art is not just about impressing, it’s more about expressing’. I hope that every young aspiring artist creates original artwork to express their thoughts and feelings. 
Message to the reader

“An art piece is open to interpretation, but keep in mind that artwork is just one individual’s thought !”