Japanese artist Tomoyo Ihaya's 'Blue Lotus' exhibition of 50 drawings as tribute to the Tibetan self-immolations in Dharamshala from January 12-13, 2013. (Phayul photo/Phuntsok Yangchen)
DHARAMSHALA, January 12: An exhibition of 50 drawings as a tribute to the Tibetan self-immolations by Japanese artist Tomoyo Ihaya opened today in the exile Tibetan headquarters of Dharamshala.
The two-day exhibition titled ‘Blue Lotus’ is being jointly organised by the regional chapters of the Tibetan youth and women associations at the TCV Day School in McLeod Ganj.
The artist, Tomoya Ihaya, after studying Fine Arts in Canada and travelling around the world through international artist-in-residency programmes has exhibited nationally and internationally. Known for her seemingly simple imagery, underplaying complex psychological, political, and spiritual messages, Ihaya has received numerous awards including project grants from the Canada Council for the Arts.
Making a brief presentation before the opening of the exhibition, Ihaya said the drawings were “an immediate emotional response” to the mourning of the exile Tibetans following the wave of self-immolations in Tibet.
“During my last visit to Dharamshala in the spring of 2012, I witnessed the Tibetan community in exile living with painful and repeated news of their people dying in fire in China-occupied Tibet,” Ihaya said. “I could not help but drawing.”
“The self-immolations rose relentlessly. As an outsider and as an artist, I felt that my task was not finished. I came back and ended up making more than 50 drawings.”
Japanese artist Tomoyo Ihaya explaining her art on the first day of exhibition in Dharamshala on January 12, 2013. (Phayul photo/Phuntsok Yangchen)
The Japan born artists added that it pained her each time she heard the news of another self-immolation in Tibet.
“As an artist, I feel personally connected to the Tibetan self-immolations and I had to do the drawings as an offering,” she said.
Since 2009, close to a hundred Tibetans have set themselves on fire protesting China’s occupation and demanding freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama from exile. Thousands of Tibetans have carried out mass protests even as Chinese authorities have increased their repressive policies and tightened the noose around self-immolations.
A similar tribute to the Tibetan self-immolations is also being made by Beijing-based artist Liu Yi, who is working on a series of black-and-white portraits depicting close-up faces of Tibetan self-immolators.
Speaking to AP, Liu revealed that through his artwork he wants to bear witness to one of the biggest waves of fiery protests in recent history, while making a heartfelt plea for the protests to stop.
"When I'm painting, I'm thinking: 'Enough, enough, don't do this anymore. Stop,'" Liu told AP. "I also hope that everyone won't look at it in an ideological or ethnic way, but to pay attention to it from a humanitarian perspective."
Liu further noted that the Tibetans setting themselves on fire were “completely” sacrificing themselves for their cause with no intention of harming others.
“These people are not attacking other people, they are completely sacrificing themselves," the artist said.