AboutColourful Darkness, an exhibition of new works by Tibetan artist Benchung, will be staged by Rossi & Rossi at their gallery at 16 Clifford Street, Mayfair, London W1, from Wednesday 2 December 2009 to Saturday 16 January 2010. This will be the tenth in the gallery's well-received series of solo exhibitions devoted to contemporary Asian artists.
Born Benpa Chungdak in Lhasa in 1971, Benchung studied as an exchange student in the Department of Graffiti Design at Tianjin Academy of the Arts in China from 1989 to 1992 when he moved to the Department of Arts at Tibet University in Lhasa. Here he gained a BA in Fine Art and, more recently, an MA in Visual Art at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts in Norway. His work has been exhibited not only in Lhasa and Beijing but also as far afield as Tokyo, Oslo, Königswinter (Germany) and New York, as well as other American cities, but this is his first exhibition in the UK.
Benchung's paintings are like a film sequence, where the narrator attempts to weave a continuous tale but the continuity is repeatedly broken. The setting is idyllic, with abundant flora and a constantly blue sky. Cropped male figures dominate his paintings, often with an absurd juxtaposition of elements: a headless figure hovers over a field of sunflowers, a man seen from the back with a mourning band on his arm holds a gun against his own sunflower head (fig. 2). Much of the work is infused with humour, as in Portrait (fig. 4) where a man in a suit has a bucket over his head. Behind this imagery lie questions of control, both political and mental.
Despite the familiarity of flowers and colours, we enter a world where logic is contorted: the paintings are cropped and all the figures' heads are severed. In much of his work, Benchung's use of colour amplifies the charged atmosphere of the paintings. A thin layer of film covers the objects like a veil, regardless of the differences in local colour. The shadows in his work glow with saturated and intensified colour.
Fabio Rossi has travelled extensively in Tibet and China, meeting artists working there as well as other Tibetan artists working in the West. As a result, over the past two years he has staged a series of solo exhibitions devoted to contemporary Asian artists, particularly Tibetan, bringing them to the forefront of the contemporary art market.