Tenzin Norbu - Breakfast with the Arts 1/17

Please join us on Tuesday 1/17 for an exhibition and discussion with artist Tenzin Norbu!

8:30 - 10:00 AM
Nearburg Gallery, Black Family Visual Arts Center
Pastries, muffins and coffee will be served.

Sponsored by The Leslie Center for Humanities


 Tenzin Norbu studied for sixteen years under Temba Chomphel, eventually becoming assistant master. Tenzin remembers that throughout his time here at Norbulingka, he got many opportunities to go abroad but each time his master strongly advised against going saying, “Wait until you have perfected the art of thangka making and have learned all there is to know. Then you will be free to go anywhere you wish.” Each time, Tenzin heeded his master’s words and now he looks back on this advice with gratitude.

Temba Chomphel began a grand project with the patronage of HH the 14th Dalai Lama to create a thangka series depicting the lives of all the Dalai Lamas. This project was especially exciting because no earlier series of paintings existed featuring the deeds of the entire lineage of Dalai Lamas, so this would be the first of its kind. Our research section spent months pouring over the biographies of the Dalai Lamas and passing on relevant sections to Temba Chomphel so that he could illustrate the important deeds and design the layout for the life of each. When Temba Chomphel tragically passed away in 2007, Tenzin Norbu faithfully continued the work, with all the same care and creativity, and the project has just recently been completed, the dedicated effort of both master artists finally realized.

At the beginning, Norbulingka only offered specially commissioned thangkas, but these could take many months or even years to complete, and as many people appreciate the beauty and spirit of thangkas, but do not have detailed specifications which require a specially commissioned one, we decided to design a Norbulingka collection of thangkas featuring the main deities of the Tibetan Buddhist pantheon. Tenzin Norbu, again consulting vast amounts of scriptures, then designed a set of around 30 painted and applique thangkas that are now available in our showroom and exhibitions for anyone to purchase.

Tenzin Norbu explains that thangkas are important on three different levels. Firstly, they preserve the spirit of Tibetan Buddhism, and aid practitioners in their individual search for enlightenment. As such an ancient art form, integrated so closely into Tibetan Buddhism, the practice of thangka painting also helps to preserve the unique Tibetan heritage. Finally, thangka painting provides a good livelihood to many Tibetan artists, meanwhile instilling in them a sense of pride and knowledge in their culture and religion.