1 September 2023
Paintings, Sculpture
Pema (Tintin) Tshering

In-Between Lives: An Artistic Journey Through Transcendence


Pema (Tintin) Tshering, a luminary artist hailing from the cultural heartland of Thimphu, Bhutan, presents an evocative exhibition that delves into the intricacies of existence and the profound wisdom of Buddhist philosophy. Tintin’s exploration of the liminal space between life and rebirth, aptly titled ‘In-Between Lives,’ offers a transformative narrative woven with threads of introspection and spiritual resonance. He guides viewers on a journey that transcends the boundaries of perception, inviting them to contemplate the ethereal dance of life and death. Drawing from the teachings of Bardo—a realm of transition—he translates the essence of the ‘in-between’ into an artistic tapestry that resonates with both the tangible and the intangible.


Tintin exhibits internationally with solo shows “Wishful Refraction” 2020 in Tansbao Gallery, Taiwan. The “Voice of the Thunder Dragon” 2017 in 263 Bowery NYC, US. Group show with Voluntary Artist Studio Thimphu (VAST) Healing with Happiness 2022 for the Belfius Bank Brussels, Belgium which circulated the largest collection of Bhutanese contemporary art overseas.

Tintin is one of the founding members of Voluntary Artist Studio Thimphu (VAST) set up in 1998 in Thimphu, Bhutan, where he continues to contribute as an educator, mentor and is on the Executive board. VAST was established as the first and only contemporary art organisation which philanthropically offers informal educational programmes for young people and adults.


In-Between Lives 

My understanding of self and no self is the exploration of Buddhism as a life’s journey of emotions through art. As I make my personal spiritual journey to understand death through life, I came across the teaching of Bardo. “Bardo” is generally understood as a state of existence between death and rebirth.

In Buddhism, “Bar” is a Tibetan word, which means ‘In-between’ or as an intermediate state and “Do” means “two” or the beginning and end of the cycle of births and attainment of enlightenment.

Khenpo Phuntshok Tashi mentions in his book “The Fine Art of Living and Manifesting a Peaceful Death”:

“Fine Art can be timeless and carry a special iconic quality, which radiates far beyond the initial object or idea. Through Buddhist practice, we can render our lives as art and shape them through managing positive intentions with mindfulness and by accumulating spiritual merit”

As I take my own life as art and aspire to understand the essence of being alive, I hope to share this experience of being IN-BETWEEN LIVES through my work.


Artistic Statement

While I have identified as a contemporary artist for more than 20 years, I still see myself seeking out opportunities to learn about art and its relation to life, culture, tradition and humanity. As an artist I am greatly inspired by the end- less creative possibilities that come from life and our experiences in different spaces including the richness of Bhutanese visual heritage and philosophy blended with the infinite range of visual techniques to create many forms, be it abstract, conceptual or realistic. I am currently excited by the challenging freedom of working in different mediums to explore concept and conceptual art in Buddhist themes in personal expression and experience.

My work frequently responds to and engages with traditional Bhutanese art and its religious themes. I often explore Buddhist spiritualism, both its abstract intangible philosophies and its manifestations in everyday life such as symbols, personalities, practices and the human landscape of faith and beliefs. Much of my work attempts to re-imagine these Buddhist concepts, freeing them from their expected, familiar traditional contexts and allowing them to shift into new creative directions. A current preoccupation is how to artistically express and explore my own questions about the impermanent and illusionary nature of human life and existence.

My journey as an artist has enjoyed the dual blessing of being born in a nation like Bhutan, which has a strong, vibrant and colorful tradition of art and being involved since childhood

with the Voluntary Artist Studio, Thimphu (VAST), where I have been constantly exposed to new artistic styles and traditions. VAST is more that just an art center or even a place to learn art—-it’s a vibrant, inclusive community, which trains, supports, and inspires young contemporary Bhutanese artists like myself to create and explore. I am proud to be a founding member of VAST, proud of the accomplishments of my fellow VAST artist, and proud to have learnt under the pioneers. And finally, I am proud of my continued association with VAST as I help to teach and nurture a new group of promising young artists.

Contemporary art is relatively new in Bhutan and as a contemporary Bhutanese artist I recognize both the challenges and opportunities of this circumstance. We are still learning to understand and connect with new ways of expression. However, I see being part of the first wave of contemporary Bhutanese artist as an honor and I feel privileged to be among the first to re-imagine, re-shape particularly Bhutanese experiences, beliefs and land-scapes without being overly influenced or limited by someone else’s interpretations.

I hope every piece of work that I undertake has the potential for both myself and the viewer to interpret and represent our world with a fresh and untutored perspective. I know this is both an exciting opportunity and a huge responsibility, both of which I embrace.

To learn more about this wonderful artist please visit his website and his Instagram account.

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