With 71 paintings by various Bhutanese artists,  a competition exhibition named Patterns of Happiness opened at the Voluntary Artists’ Studio Thimphu (VAST) art gallery and VAST Bhutan studio in Thimphu on September 24.

VAST art gallery manager, Karma Tenzin Choden, said that initially, only a few artists came up with their work. “Later on we received an overwhelming response. The actual plan was to exhibit the work here at the gallery but the space wasn’t enough, so we have more at the VAST studio.”

Aimed at promoting contemporary art in the country, the artists contributed paintings expressing the meaning of happiness at the competition.

Executive director with VAST Bhutan, Chimi Zangmo, said that the modern art competition is VAST Bhutan’s continued effort to provide platform for artists to showcase their thought process on canvas. “The end product, the paintings itself is not the end. We at VAST Bhutan truly believe that organising such event will help nurture artistic minds and play our role in nurturing a creative society,” she said.

The exhibited works are judged by 10 selected diverse personalities who share an appreciation and love for arts.

Chief Editor of Yalama, an online journal and one of the judges, Jurmi Chhowing, said that Bhutanese art have come a long way in-terms of concept, presentation and originality. “It is refreshing to see our Bhutanese artists break away from the strangle-hold of just doing what I call traditional art which is stuck at a time and place and which doesn’t have much relevance now,” he said. “The need for government endowment for arts is really necessary.”

The top three winners of the competition, which will be announced by the third week of October, will receive cash prizes.

One of the ten judges, Passang Tshering, said that VAST had wanted different perspectives in judging art and for him the most eye-catching were the ones, which were a fusion of modern and traditional art.

He added that the Writers Association of Bhutan would work with VAST Bhutan for book covers in the future.

Royal Textile Academy of Bhutan supported the exhibition following a signing of Memorandum of Understanding on August 28 between VAST Bhutan and the Royal Textile Academy of Bhutan.

The exhibition ends on October 15. On October 22, the VAST art gallery will also exhibit work of women artists in the fourth round of art exhibition called ‘her expression’.

Phurpa Lhamo