Kunsang Tsering interview: "when I see a Tangka, I am accompanied by"

Kunsang Tsering despite his youth is a master of Tibetan Tangka and author of two books on Tibetan painting: tangkas and mandalas. It is the heir of a saga of artists from Central Asia who made the painting "the art of lighting". His canvases have travelled from Mongolian, Tibet, India, Iceland and Spain. By Koncha Pinós for space MIMIND.

KunsangKunsang spends the days without raising the eyes of fabric. His life is devoted to a form of ancient art where the images and the Buddhist teachings are transmitted visually. On June 16 I will be in Barcelona, teaching first in Spain "The art of the Tibetan Tangka", a unique opportunity that we cannot miss, see www.kunsang.com

To the age of 14 years decided to go is to the India to learn the art of the painting Buddhist Tibetan-Tangkha-. In Dharamshala, where the Tibetan Government in exile. Was six years studying art until he could finally paint the frescos of a Buddhist monastery in Bir. Then Darjeeling, Manali would come to... Until thanks to all that experience that acquired had the experience of working in the monastery private of his Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Namgyal.

Tashi Delek Kunsang - Lha, a pleasure to have you with us. Do you remember the first time he picked up a Paintbrush? How did your relationship with painting?
He was 12 years old and still living in Tibet when I drew Om mani pedme Hum -mantra of Buddhist compassion-. One of my brothers used to engrave in stone and then painted engraving; one day decided that it was enough more to help with the painting, and that was my first time. Yes, when I remember it I get excited; I much admired my brother, it was something very special to me. The tangka was a tool used in my culture to represent the life of Buddha, is a visual representation of the abhidharma - Buddha - teachings.

So it first that did was the mantra of the Buddha of the compassion? Do you think that art can be compassionate?
Art is not more than compassion.

Can describe us as is the day to day of a school of art Tibetan?
The day begins at 6 o'clock in the morning, we prayed for an hour and then we take a small breakfast before school. When you start to paint the head of Buddha, for example, the eyes repeat thousands of times to move to the other side of the face. In addition we are always sitting on the floor, painted with natural light and when we paint big picture use glasses to enlarge small details.

You meditate while paints?
The painting is a State of meditation. For me, the time flies. Suddenly rings the Bell that warns us that the day has finished. There is no difference between meditation and painting. I only contemplate the empty space and the images that arise.

How many times will have had to make the face of Buddha? Is there a number of times to build a perfect work?
There is a number, it depends on the precision of the artist and of the opinion of the professor. In my case I remember that they were three notebooks, but I remember the pages.

Is it difficult to be tangkas painter?
I do not think that it is difficult. When are painting you feel so happy, is like a sport to which you feel amateur.

That is a tangka for you?
For most people it is a decoration, but for me it is not that; It is an offering, a support. Whenever I see a tangka I feel accompanied, they are fellow travelers... The tangkas are visually beautiful and deeply inspiring, as a form of sacred art that illuminates the space where it is placed. Each element contained in a tangka has a specific meaning that is revealed through the Buddhist path of the teachings, contemplation and meditation.

What materials are needed to make a work?
It's pretty straightforward: pencil, paint brushes, acrylics and patience and precision. I'd say the most important thing is to enter into the composition, which is very geometric. Legs, arms, eyes, nose, ears and elements are arranged according to the order in the composition. Everything is measured and methodical. One can not put what you want in a tangka, required a deep understanding of the Dharma - teaching of the Buddha - to capture the spirit


Then is it religious art?
The tangka has religious symbolism, and representations must be prepared according to the Scriptures or Buddhist texts. Who paints thus has to know that paint and order the treasures of space

The treasures of the space?
In the Buddhism all is ordered according to the mind of lit. Art is Nirmanakaya - Buddha-body, so what you see in a work has to obey in shape, posture, position, attributes or proportions to what is.

Which images are on a tangka?
The images that appear are channeled through the master of the tangkas who meditates. The Tibetan tangkas depict the energies of the light transmitted also to all who see them. Traditionally the tangkas Buddhist are used as objects of devotion and of teaching. They were used for the practice of tantric meditation and is manufactured in cotton with quality paintings, plated in gold's high quality and precious stones.

Then, I understand that the tangka has several features...
Yes, sometimes the images of the deities illustrate different teachings, stories, myths and archetypes; others are pure devotion and act as a single piece in a special celebration, to help people to focus on one point. But it can also be used simply as a meditation, a way of quieting the mind.

That skills and virtues can develop a person who paints tangkas?
Develop the patience, you fall in love of the silent and mostly lose the notion of the time.

When can I start a person in the art of Tangka? As time I can take in making a work?
Doesn't really matter what age you have, if not that your mind is clear. But the minimum age are generally 8 years and until you do not have 16 years you're not capable of painting a tangka. A tangka you occupied at least three months. But you can start acquiring the basic knowledge and meditation painting.

What is the difference between a tangka and a mandala?
There is no difference, they are synonyms.

You believe that a Western can appreciate the tremendous work that has a tangka?
Yes, of course. I can give many examples of Westerners who are even better than Tibetans themselves.

That all beings be happy, and you also.
Thank you

Kunsang Tsering in Barcelona

On June 16 he teaches the course "The Tibetan art of the Tangkas"


For more information of Tibetan art and Kunsang Tsering:

Send them to Tibet. Ed. MTM The art of lighting. Ed. MTM

Las religions of the Tibet (original title:) Die religions Tibets(, 1970), published by the Editorial Paidós in his collection Paidos Orientalia.

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By • 27 May, 2013 • section: Interview