“My work is like making little shrines. It’s the common things in them that make them precious.”
Born: Dharmsala, India, 1963. Lives and works mostly in Switzerland.
Kesang Lamdark has never lived in his parents’ native Tibet: he was born in northern India after they fled the Chinese occupation. As an artist, he has always sought to balance his thoroughly Western upbringing with the Tibet that for decades he knew only from books and family stories. He honours this Tibet with what he calls “neo-Tantric art”, a fusion of traditional imagery with Western materials like styrofoam, beer cans and neon tubes. Silver, lime green, yellow and red, the mandalas in Kesang Lamdark’s Bicycle Wheels (2007) mobile look anything but sacred. But beneath the melted plastic (which he likes because it is “modern and imperishable”) are hidden buddhas, along with snakes, skulls and flowers. “When I am eating,” he says, “I like to mix unusual things together: meat with chocolate, bananas with anchovies. As an artist, I combine unusual materials to create a taste for something different.”