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Born in Tibet, Kalsang Dawa apprenticed with three of Lhasa’s most prominent masters of traditional art by the time he was fourteen. As a young man he walked across the treacherous Himalayas to join the Tibetan exile community in Dharamsala, India. For the next eight years Kalsang studied with the Venerable Sengye Yeshi, former personal painter of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Kalsang became a master of traditional painting, immersed in its philosophy and disciplined in its rigorous techniques.

 

Kalsang moved to North America in 1998 and began pushing the boundaries of tradition with an evolving personal style. Emphasizing art as a source of insight and healing, he conducted over 50 workshops at museums, galleries, Buddhist centres and educational institutions. His prints have sold at the Rubin Museum in New York, San Francisco Museum of Asian Art and UBC Museum of Anthropology. He was profiled by the CBC and Vancouver Magazine and featured in the film Dancing On The Hurricane.

Artist’s Statement: 

There are dangers in my quest for inner understanding through art.  As a traditional thankga painter in Tibet and Dharamsala, I learned how to bring alive a sacred landscape of Gods and Goddesses, with all their symbolic ornamentation. I knew their layered meanings, handed down over generations.  Thangka painting is a meditation aide for artist and patron, not a display of creative impulse. It demands respect for boundaries. My Masters told me: “Don’t mess with the Gods and Goddesses, you will disturb the world order.” Yet, I was always attracted to the dangerous face of innovation.

 

As a Tibetan artist in the West I have continued to use the unique semi-precious stone pigments and exacting methods of the thangka tradition. I have pushed past old boundaries, however, by disrupting traditional meanings and forms. To step outside the boundaries is to risk losing something -  the respect of your Masters and others married to tradition, or the comfort of a familiar path. It is dangerous to play with respected symbols; you may feel guilty of betraying your learned values or even what you thought was your most profound self.

 

New paths have no certainties or safe outcomes. But, they allow me to become more alive in the present. Through painting I want to reach for a better, more authentic self and to touch those who also have embarked on a journey inwards. Ultimately the painterly quest is not so much about finding anything but about recording the imprint of the journey.

exhibits
installations

2014 

Tsengdok Monastery, Vancouver, BC

Designed and painted throne used for monastic rituals 

 

2015 

Shantideva Buddhist Temple – Ithaca, New York

Planned, designed and created the artwork for a Buddhist Temple. Eight of my thangkas were commissioned as a foundation of the primary collection, on exhibit at this temple. 

2000

Saint Norbert Arts and Culture Centre –Winnipeg, Canada

Painted “Universal Compassion” –Room 23 for the “Language Hotel”.'

1994

Library of Tibetan Works and Archives – Dharamsala, India

Created exterior designs for this significant culture building

 

1993-1994 

Ganden Monastery, Mundgod, Karnataka State, India

Created “Neten” series of 24 thangka paintings to be part of the art collection at this monastery 

1989

Pupu-ri Monastery – Lhasa, Tibet

Created interior and exterior designs for a monastery located in the Tibetan capital. 

Public Talk

Nov 24th, 2016

Visual & Material Culture

MOA, UBC, Vancouver

2016

International Day of the Dead Exhibit

Granville Island, Vancouver, Canada

Sep 23rd, 2015 

Your Inner Mandala

Banyan Books & Sound

Vancouver, Canada 

Nov 15th, 2016 

International Day of the Dead Exhibit 

Granville Island,Vancouver, Canada

 

May 29nd, 2015

Thangka Exhibition

BC Buddhist Festival, Vancouver, Canada

May 22nd, 2015

Sculpted 9 ft Buddha

BC Buddhist Festival, Vancouver, Canada

Sept-Nov, 2014 

Distance & Displacement

Penticton Art Gallery, Penticton, Canada

 

Aug 2014 

Materials & Pigments

Ferry Building Gallery, Harmony Arts Festival.

Vancouver, Canada

March 2014 

Between The Line

Studio Gallery 33, Vancouver, BC

2013

Finding Your Alignment

Yoga Pod Body and Soul Gallery

North Vancouver, BC

 

May 2014 

Undying Love

Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Gardens

Vancouver, Canada

April-May 2006 

Two Minds

MOA, University of British Columbia

Vancouver, Canada

March-Oct 2005 

Mountains and Valleys, Castles and Tents

Royal British Columbia Museum: Tibet Exhibit:

Victoria, BC, Canada

 

April 2004 

Himalayan Art Exhibit

Pendulum Gallery in the Atrium

Vancouver, Canada

 

1999 - Feb 2003 

Walk into Tibet

Cosmopolis Gallery – Vancouver, Canada

Feb 2001 

 Missing Home

SUB Gallery, UBC

Vancouver, Canada
 

Dec 2001

Unsettled Stillness

Toronto City Hall

Toronto, Canada
 

Jan 11-13, 2000 

Art Gallery of Greater Victoria – Victoria, Canada

 

Nov 5-7, 1999 

Ferry Building Gallery – Vancouver, Canada

Aug 18-19, 1999 

Kalachakra Teaching with His Holiness the Dalai Lama: Tibetan Cultural Centre - Bloomington, Indiana, USA.

 

Aug 2-11, 1999 

Highland Park Public Library - Highland Park, New Jersey, USA

 

July 27, 1999 

Unitarian Fellowship Hall

Kingston, Canada

 

July 24, 1999  

Arts Centre – Waterloo, Canada

 

Aug 18-19, 1999 

Snellgrove Gallery: University of Saskatchewan – Saskatoon, Canada

 

June 1-30, 1999 

Britannia Public Library – Vancouver, Canada

 

June 1-10, 1999 

Tibetan Sacred Art Exhibit, Pendulum Gallery – Vancouver, Canada

 

May 22-24, 1999 

Village Craftworks – Gabriola Island, CanadaMarch 13, 1999 

The Roundhouse Community Centre – Vancouver, Canada

 

Oct 1998 

University of British Columbia, SUB Gallery – Vancouver, Canada 

May, 2016 

SEATTLE ASIAN ART MUSUEM

 Workshop

Seattle, US

Oct 24th, 2015

 

Penticton, BC, Canada

 

2006- present  

EMILY CARR UNIVERSITY OF ART AND DESIGN

www.ecuad.ca

Instructor, Introduction to Tibetan thangka painting

Kalsang is part of the teaching faculty at Emily Carr. He teaches Introduction to Tibetan thangka painting as part of the Continuing Education program. Students in the program receive academic credits and a formal evaluation. The course is provided in Winter, Summer and Fall semesters. 

 

2013-present  

STUDIO GALLERY 33

http://www.studiogallery33.com/

Healing Arts Thangka Workshops

Vancouver, Canada 

 

2014 

ARTS WELLS

www.artswells.com

Healing Arts Thangka Workshops

Barkerville, Canada 

 

2014 

WIND-IN-THE-WILLOW CREATION HEALING ART STUDIO Healing Arts Thangka Workshops
Penticton, Canada 

 

2013

SHAMBHALA MEDITATION CENRE

http://sf.shambhala.org/

San Francisco, CA, USA 

 

2010 

LAKE TAHOE COMMUNITY CENTRE Tibetan Festival
Lake Tahoe, Nevada, USA 

2009 

UNIVERSITY OF SASKATCHEWAN

http://www.usask.ca/

Department of Religious Studies 

 

March-Oct 2005 

MUSEUM OF ANTHROPOLOGY

www.moa.ubc.ca

Healing Arts Thangka Workshops Vancouver, Canada

 

April 2006 

LANGARA COLLEGE

www.langara.bc.ca

Integrative Healing Arts Program

Co-coordinated and led group trip to Dharamsala, India. Taught students about Tibetan history, art, culture, and traditional healing systems during 3 week tour of Buddhist sacred sites, Tibetan Medical Institute, Thangka painting school, Tibetan Childrens’ Village school and orphanage. 

 

2005 

ROYAL BRITISH COLUMBIA MUSEUM,

www.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca

Thangka painting workshops Victoria, Canada 

 

May 2005 

Thangka painting demonstration: Travelling Tibetan Cultural Festival –Sunshine Coast, Vancouver Lower Mainland, Canada 

 

Dec 2004

Thangka painting demonstration: Yaletown Art Show – Vancouver, Canada Demonstrate technique and tools use in thangka painting 

 

2002 

Thangka painting demonstration: Tibetan Cultural Festival z– Vancouver, Canada 

 

2001 

UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE

Department of Religious Studies 

 

Aug 18-19, 1999 

SAINT NORBERT ARTS AND CULTURE CENTRE 

Winnipeg, Canada

http://www.snac.mb.ca/

Participated in a Canada Council sponsored project called the “Language Hotel”, in which artists from across Canada gathered for a collaborative residency: http://www.snac.mb.ca/language_hotel/twenty_three.html 

 

Teachings
Performance art

Nov, 2016

Intraelement Performance: I MISSED YOU

MOA, UBC, Vancouver, Cananda

Sep 2nd, 2016 

Intraelement Performance: I MISSED YOU

Richmond Culture Centre Performance Hall