Tsherin Sherpa retrospective in Houston

Asia Society Texas in Houston presents Tsherin Sherpa: Spirits, a stunning mid-career retrospective of today’s most visible, well-known, and accomplished contemporary artist from the Himalayan region. Focusing on Sherpa’s Spirits series, the exhibition features 33 pieces, including painting, sculpture, installation, and fiber work that thoughtfully contemplate the power of transformation.

Born and raised in Kathmandu, Nepal, Tsherin Sherpa studied Tibetan Buddhist painting with his father from the age of 13. In his late 20s, he relocated to California, where he continued his traditional art practice before moving beyond its boundaries to establish his own artistic voice. Tsherin Sherpa: Spirits is open to the public September 21, 2023, through Sunday, January 7, 2024.

Tsherin Sherpa: Spirits tells the stories of loss, struggle, and empowerment. The exhibition traces the evolution of Sherpa’s Spirits series as it stretches, bends, reconfigures, and repurposes elements from traditional Tibetan art, merging them with modern imagery. Through these transformations, Sherpa contemplates the collisions of culture and identity that displaced people must negotiate. Dislocated from their homes — an experience familiar to the artist and communities all over the world — these figures move from grief and confusion to courage and self-assurance, to triumph and wisdom.

“The ‘Spirit ’character was like my alter-ego, but now, after living in Nepal again, I see there are many people who are very fluid in their identity, living between different countries and are very easily adaptable to different environments,” Sherpa said. “That fluidity is amazing. Now, ‘Spirits’ has a different meaning — it is not just about my experience.” In their multiple manifestations, the Spirits reveal endurance that gives way to the power of transformation.”

While the Spirits series began in 2009, after the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, Sherpa felt a strong urge to work with local artists, and several of these weavings, paintings, and installations will be included in the Houston iteration of the exhibition.

“Tsherin Sherpa’s witty and inventive evolution of thangka painting will enchant visitors,” Owen Duffy, Nancy C. Allen Curator and Director of Exhibitions, said. “We’re particularly excited to add to the exhibition a gallery dedicated to Sherpa’s ongoing projects with traditional artists from the Kathmandu Valley.”

Sherpa insists that the meaning of his work is fluid, dependent on what each viewer brings to the encounter. Viewers are invited to listen closely to the exhibition and discover a story that resonates with their life.

“Tsherin Sherpa: Spirits” Fast Facts:

  • Dates: Thursday, September 21, 2023 – Sunday, January 7, 2024
  • Opening Reception with the artist: Thursday, September 21 from 6 – 8:30 p.m.
  • Exhibition Admission: Free for members, $5 for students and seniors with I.D., and $8 for nonmembers
  • Hours: Wednesday–Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Location: Asia Society Texas, 1370 Southmore Blvd, Houston, TX, 77004 (in the Museum District)
  • More info: asiasociety.org/texas/exhibitions/tsherin-sherpa-spirits

Tsherin Sherpa biography

Born in Kathmandu, Nepal, in 1968, Tsherin Sherpa currently works between California and Kathmandu. In his youth, he began studying traditional Tibetan thangka painting with his father, Master Urgen Dorje Sherpa, a renowned thangka artist from Ngyalam, Tibet. After studying computer science and Mandarin in Taiwan, he returned to Nepal, where he collaborated with his father on several important projects, including thangka and monastery mural paintings.

In 1998, Sherpa immigrated to California; there, he began to explore his own style – reimagining traditional tantric motifs, symbols, colors, and gestures, which he resolutely placed in contemporary compositions.

The artist represented Nepal at the 59th Venice Biennale in 2022 with his solo exhibition Tales of Muted Spirits – Dispersed Threads – Twisted Shangri-La. He has exhibited across the United States, Europe, and Asia.

About Asia Society Texas

Asia Society Texas Center believes in the strength and beauty of diverse perspectives and people. As an educational institution, we advance cultural exchange by celebrating the vibrant diversity of Asia, inspiring empathy, and fostering a better understanding of our interconnected world.

Spanning the fields of arts, business, culture, education, and policy, our programming is rooted in the educational and cultural development of our community — trusting in the power of art, dialogue, and ideas to combat bias and build a more inclusive society.

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