‘Death and Life’

The sense of purity in this work by Lhasa artist Ang Sang is created in part by the limited palette that the artist has employed. The background here is the colour of earth, while the clothes adorning the devotees in the foreground replicate its warm tones and texture. Like the eagle above, the worshippers' bodies are white and luminous as marble. The women are painted in simple profile, their features and gestures presented in such clean lines and angles that they could well be abstractions. Their actions, too, must surely be only the purest acts of religious love.

Bright, upright and seemingly studded with brilliant crystals, the eagle watches over the canvas with wide, all-encompassing wings. It draws the viewer's eye not only with its beauty, but also its dramatically powerful position on the painting's central axis. Whether it is directing the women's devotions or is their recipient is unclear. Indeed, the eagle's majestic figure does not seem unworthy of adoration, but from under its outspread wings, it also difficult to imagine otherwise. The impression that this bird of prey is in control is quickly followed by the realisation that its colouring has invaded its followers' very skin. Its head turned to its right shoulder, the bird, too late, begins to resemble icons of fascist regimes of old.

This is part of a regular series of Himal's commentary on work by artists with the Lhasa-based Gedun Choephel Artists' Guild. Mixed media. 36 cm x 36 cm.       

Loading content, please wait...
Himal Southasian