Tsherin Sherpa: Spirits tells the stories of loss, struggle, and empowerment in this thought-provoking and participatory art experience by renowned Himalayan artist Tsherin Sherpa. Born and raised in Kathmandu, Nepal, Sherpa studied Tibetan Buddhist painting with his father from the age of thirteen. In his late 20s, he relocated to California, where he continued his traditional art practice before moving beyond its boundaries to establish his own artistic voice.
Featuring more than 30 paintings, sculptures, and textile works, the exhibition traces the evolution of Sherpa's Spirits series as it stretches, bends, reconfigures, and repurposes elements from traditional Tibetan art, merging them with modern imagery. Through these transformations, Sherpa contemplates the collisions of culture and identity that displaced people must negotiate. Dislocated from their homes — an experience familiar to the artist and communities all over the world — these figures move from grief and confusion, to courage and self-assurance, to triumph and wisdom. In their multiple manifestations, the "Spirits" reveal the power and endurance of transformation in these works.
Wednesday・10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Thursday・12 p.m. – 7 p.m. | Free Thursday exhibition admission presented by Regions Bank
Friday–Sunday・10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
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Louisa Stude Sarofim Gallery Admission Only
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Free for guests ages 6 and under and for Asia Society members
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Photography is permitted. Flash photography and use of tripods and selfie-sticks are not allowed.
Born in Kathmandu, Nepal, in 1968, Tsherin Sherpa currently works between California and Kathmandu. In his youth, he began studying traditional Tibetan thangka painting with his father, Master Urgen Dorje Sherpa, a renowned thangka artist from Ngyalam, Tibet. After studying computer science and Mandarin in Taiwan, he returned to Nepal, where he collaborated with his father on several important projects, including thangka and monastery mural paintings. In 1998, Sherpa immigrated to California; there, he began to explore his own style – reimagining traditional tantric motifs, symbols, colors, and gestures, which he resolutely placed in contemporary compositions.
The artist represented Nepal at the 59th Venice Biennale in 2022 with his solo exhibition Tales of Muted Spirits – Dispersed Threads – Twisted Shangri-La. He has exhibited across the United States, Europe and Asia, including in the 8th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT8), Brisbane (2015); Beyond the Mandala – Contemporary Art from Tibet (2011), Volte Gallery, Mumbai, in collaboration with Rossi & Rossi London; Scorching Sun of Tibet (2010), Songzhuang Art Center, Beijing; Tradition Transformed: Tibetan Artists Respond (2010), Rubin Museum of Art, New York, Hood Museum of Art, Hanover, New Hampshire, and the Crow Collection of Asian Art, Dallas, Texas; Buddha in the Hood (2010), Red Mill Gallery, Johnson, Vermont; Sacred Images: Thangka Painting (2007), Alta Galleria, Berkeley, California; and Contemporary Thangka (2007), Smith Andersen Editions, Palo Alto, California. He has also held solo exhibitions at Rossi & Rossi London (2012 and 2018) and Hong Kong (2016).
- For high-resolution images, please email Stephanie Todd-Wong, Director of Communications and Audience Engagement: STWong@AsiaSociety.org
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HOUSTON, August 15, 2023 — Asia Society Texas (AST) announces the opening of Tsherin Sherpa: Spirits, a stunning mid-career retrospective of today’s most visible, well-known, and accomplished contemporary artist from the Himalayan region. Focusing on Sherpa’s Spirits series, the exhibition features 33 pieces, including painting, sculpture, installation, and fiber work that thoughtfully contemplate the power of transformation. Born and raised in Kathmandu, Nepal, Sherpa studied Tibetan Buddhist painting with his father from the age of 13. In his late 20s, he relocated to California, where he continued his traditional art practice before moving beyond its boundaries to establish his own artistic voice. Tsherin Sherpa: Spirits is open to the public Thursday, September 21, 2023, through Sunday, January 7, 2024.
Tsherin Sherpa: Spirits tells the stories of loss, struggle, and empowerment. The exhibition traces the evolution of Sherpa's Spirits series as it stretches, bends, reconfigures, and repurposes elements from traditional Tibetan art, merging them with modern imagery. Through these transformations, Sherpa contemplates the collisions of culture and identity that displaced people must negotiate. Dislocated from their homes — an experience familiar to the artist and communities all over the world — these figures move from grief and confusion to courage and self-assurance, to triumph and wisdom.
According to Sherpa, “The ‘Spirit’ character was like my alter-ego, but now, after living in Nepal again, I see there are many people who are very fluid in their identity, living between different countries and are very easily adaptable to different environments. That fluidity is amazing. Now, ‘Spirits’ has a different meaning — it is not just about my experience.” In their multiple manifestations, the Spirits reveal endurance that gives way to the power of transformation.
For Owen Duffy, Nancy C. Allen Curator and Director of Exhibitions, the opportunity to share Sherpa’s work with the Houston community is significant: “Tsherin Sherpa’s witty and inventive evolution of thangka painting will enchant visitors. We're particularly excited to add to the exhibition a gallery dedicated to Sherpa's ongoing projects with traditional artists from the Kathmandu Valley."
While the Spirits series began in 2009, after the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, Sherpa felt a strong urge to work with local artists, and several of these weavings, paintings, and installations will be included in the Houston iteration of the exhibition. For Sherpa, “The Asia Society Texas exhibition is going to be a major platform to showcase these contemporary collaborations with traditional artists from Nepal.”
Sherpa insists that the meaning of his work is fluid, dependent on what each viewer brings to the encounter. Viewers are invited to listen closely to the exhibition and discover a story that resonates with their life.
- Dates: Thursday, September 21, 2023 – Sunday, January 7, 2024
- Opening Reception with the artist: Thursday, September 21, 6–8:30 p.m.
- Admission: Free for members, $5 for students and seniors with I.D., and $8 for nonmembers
- Hours: Wednesday–Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
About Asia Society Texas
Asia Society Texas believes in the strength and beauty of diverse perspectives and people. As an educational institution, we advance cultural exchange by celebrating the vibrant diversity of Asia, inspiring empathy, and fostering a better understanding of our interconnected world. Spanning the fields of arts, business, culture, education, and policy, our programming is rooted in the educational and cultural development of our community — trusting in the power of art, dialogue, and ideas to combat bias and build a more inclusive society.
Tsherin Sherpa: Spirits is organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, in partnership with Asia Society Texas. The checklist of works in the exhibition was selected by Dr. John Henry Rice, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Curator of South Asian and Islamic Art, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The Asia Society Texas presentation of the exhibition is curated by Owen Duffy, Nancy C. Allen Curator and Director of Exhibitions, with Rebecca Becerra, Exhibitions Manager and Registrar.
Exhibitions and their related programs at Asia Society Texas are presented by Nancy C. Allen, Chinhui Juhn and Eddie Allen, and Leslie and Brad Bucher. Major support comes from The Brown Foundation, Inc., the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance, The Clayton Fund, Houston Endowment Inc., and Mid-America Arts Alliance. Generous funding also provided by The Anchorage Foundation of Texas, National Endowment for the Arts, and Texas Commission on the Arts. Free Thursday exhibition admission presented by Regions Bank. Funding is also provided through contributions from the Exhibitions Patron Circle, a dedicated group of individuals and organizations committed to bringing exceptional visual art to Asia Society Texas.
Nancy C. Allen
Leslie and Brad Bucher
Chinhui Juhn and Edward Allen