The American Pop Art movement was nothing compared to the Crazy Wisdom pop art of Tibetan-born artist Gade. Gade take western images (superheros and commercial icons) and transforms them into religious icons and mandalas. I can’t think of anything more representative of strength than a rampaging Vajra-HULK or the contemplative power-house of a Dark-Night Buddha. Spider-man Buddha seems like a lame-duck though…
Paintings from his ‘New Buddha Series’ and his ‘Diamond Series’ reflect this culture shock with images of such American iconic pop figures as Mickey Mouse, Spiderman and the Hulk appearing in the centre of traditional-looking works. Gade points out that these figures show up in every corner of the earth. “When I visited a tiny village called Pazi at the base of Mount Xishabangma (8,102 metres) in the Himalayas, the kids there had backpacks with Mickey Mouse on them, and were drinking Coca Cola. That made me realise the incredible power of those ubiquitous emblems of Western culture and Western values.”
Although Gade’s work deals with consumerism, which he finds fascinating, he says “I sincerely want my work to be part of the continuity of Tibetan art, to belong to a ‘Tibetanised’ context, rather than to a Western or Chinese language system”. His new ‘Mandala Series’ takes the Buddhist mandala, which represents an entire world or state of mind, and puts in monsters, tools and objects or, as in Five new Buddhas, Mickey Mouse and Batman as two of the ‘new Buddhas’. A Buddhist himself, Gade does not believe that such works are blasphemous as “The Buddhist gods are wise: they know precisely why I do what I do. … The responsibility of the artist goes beyond creating beautiful things. I just say what I believe.”
Check out Gade’s website to see some more of his work. It is quite amazing and if I come across some money in the future I think I found the pieces to grace my altar! There are some amazing pieces of contemporary Buddhas by other artists as well.
And since Easter is coming up, I will include a reverent picture of Wolverine-Christ. Remember kids, Wolverine-Christ died on the x-shaped cross for your sins…and to piss off Sabertooth. Legend has it, one week later he regenerated and then ascended into Mutant Heaven. Alleluia!