'Excuse me while I kiss the sky', 2011 (high view)
Stickers, paper collage, and pencil on cast polyurethane sculpture
122 x 81 x 71 cm

artist profile

Gonkar Gyatso



lives and works

Beijing, New York, and London


BA, Central Institute of Nationalities, Beijing, China, 1984
MFA, Chelsea College of Art & Design, London, UK, 2000

about the artist

Of insightful flair and cutting humor, Gonkar Gyatso’s work is a potent metaphor of struggles with identity politics, capitalist forces, and soft powers of world hegemonies. Wielding the Buddha as a primary muse, the artist embodies in his art an innately inseparable link between religion, tradition, and all that he perceives around him. The extraction, selection, and distillation into his loaded compositions from the saturated mediascapes and rampant consumerism in which we live perpetuate the legacy of Pop in the twenty-first century. In his obsessive stickering, drawing, montaging, and writing, he chronicles his migratory existence while testifying to a global homogenization. Currently living and working in between Beijing, London, and New York, Gyatso operates in printmaking, collage, painting, and sculpture.  He has made it his mission to introduce contemporary Tibetan art beyond its place of origin—he has led, mobilized and supported his fellow Tibetan artists as well as those of the Tibetan diaspora and has propelled the genre to the forefront of the art world.  He has staged solo shows in Australia, India, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Finland, and Tibet. Group exhibitions that have included his work have been held at institutions such as the Rubin Museum of Art in New York, USA; the Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane, Australia; the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, Australia; the National Art Gallery in Beijing, China; the Glasgow Museum of Modern Art in Glasgow, Scotland; the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, UK; the Wereldmuseum Rotterdam in the Netherlands; and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in Israel. He was also featured in the Arsenale at the 53rd edition of the Venice Biennale in Venice, Italy. Notable recent exhibitions include participation in Roundabout, an international touring exhibition that traveled from the City Gallery Wellington in New Zealand to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in Israel, and, most significantly, his large retrospective THREE REALMS: Gonkar Gyatso, which was held in Australia, concurrently at the University of Queensland Art Museum, the Griffith University Art Gallery, and the Institute of Modern Art. The artist’s first major monograph was also published to coincide with these exhibitions. 

  • Selected exhibition history
  • Permanent collections
  • Projects
  • Editions
  • Publications
  • Recent news

2012SOLO THREE REALMS: Gonkar Gyatso – PART II, University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane, Australia

GROUP Shambala, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA

SOLO THREE REALMS: Gonkar Gyatso – PART III, Griffith University Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia

2011GROUP Tradition Transformed: Tibetan Artists Respond, Hood Museum of Art, Hanover, USA

GROUP Roundabout, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel

SOLO THREE REALMS: Gonkar Gyatso – PART I, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia

2010GROUP Roundabout, City Gallery Wellington, New Zealand

GROUP The Beauty of Distance, Songs of Survival in a Precarious Age, 17th Biennale of Sydney, Australia

GROUP Tradition Transformed: Tibetan Artists Respond, Rubin Museum of Art, New York, USA

GROUP Identity Theft, Mimmo Scognamiglio Arte Contemporanea, Milan, Italy

2009GROUP Unbound: New Art for a New Century, Newark Museum, USA

GROUP Making Worlds, The 53rd Venice Biennial, Italy

GROUP The 6th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia

2007GROUP Thermocline of Art: New Asian Waves, Museum of Contemporary Art, Karslruhe, Germany

2006GROUP Rethinking Tradition: Contemporary Tibetan Artists in the West, Visual Art Gallery, Emory University, Atlanta, USA

GROUP Culture Bound, Courtauld Institute Of Art, London, UK

GROUP Modern Art from the Roof of the World: Contemporary Tibetan Art, Siebngebirgsmuseum, Germany

GROUP Waves on the Turquoise Lake: Contemporary Expressions of Tibetan Art, CU Art Museum & The Colorado Collection, University of Colorado, Boulder, USA

2004GROUP The Refuge Week: Leave to Remain, Immigration and Diversity Museum, London, UK

SOLO Tibetan Word - Art of Communication, The Sweet Tea House Gallery, London, UK

2003GROUP Sanctuary: Contemporary Art & Human Rights, Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, Scotland

SOLO Leverhulme Fellowship and Artist Residence Show, Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, USA

Immigration and Diversity Museum, London, UK

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA

Newark Museum, USA

Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, UK

Queensland Art Gallery - Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia

Wereld Museum, Rotterdam, The Netherlands