China: Gallery cancels event due to government pressure over Tibetan artist

Macau-based iAOHiN Amber gallery cancelled Tibetan painter Tashi Norbu’s live painting event after receiving pressure from Chinese government officials, reported Hong Kong Free Press on 27 February 2017.

The artist, who was in Hong Kong at the time, added that Chinese authorities threatened to arrest and deport him if he tried to enter Macau, reported Radio Free Asia on 1 March 2017.

“A ranking Chinese military officer informed the gallery director that I was on a blacklist and my entry to Macau is forbidden,” Norbu told Radio Free Asia. “The Chinese official reasoned that whatever I display will be against the Chinese government.”

“The art gallery also advised me to leave [Hong Kong] because they could not bear responsibility if anything happened to me,” Norbu said. That day he bought a ticket to India as he said the warning “really frightened” him.

Tibetan themes in art
Though the artist’s works are described as modern interpretations of Tibetan themes often featuring Buddha, he has also painted images of the Dalai Lama and yellow umbrellas – both of which being images Beijing finds offensive; the latter a symbol of Hong Kong’s 2014 democracy demonstrations.

The artist said that three months prior to the scheduled performance where Norbu would do a live painting in front of an audience, Beijing informed him he wouldn’t be able to paint anything related to Buddha or wear anything while performing that identified him as Tibetan.

“When I work I wear a white outfit to highlight the art, rather than to draw attention to my dress. But for the Chinese, this becomes something politically symbolic, as white represents peace and they see it as a statement [against Chinese rule in Tibet],” Norbu told Radio Free Asia. “So I was not allowed to wear that.”

Norbu had been detained in April 2016 when he entered and left Macau for a show he did that received media attention.

Photo: Tashi Norbu Facebook


» Radio Free Asia – 1 March 2017
Macau gallery cancels Tibetan artist event amid Chinese pressure

» Hong Kong Free Press – 27 February 2017
Macau gallery ‘pressured’ by gov’t officials to cancel Tibetan artist’s live-painting event at opening

» Macau Daily Times – 27 February 2017
Tibetan artist barred from entering MSAR

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