In the memory of, a traditional painting displayed at an independent student exhibition on environment art, designed by the youngest artist among nine, was the one to be sold first on the third day of the exhibition on December 3 in Thimphu.

The painting by Tandin Tshering, a 19-year-old artist at National Institute for Zorig Chusum in Thimphu, highlighted Thuenpa Puenzhi (four friends) showing their bodies vanishing.

The art communicated to the audience the less aware concept of planetary loss and inter-species grieving caused by climate change. The art, through the use of traditional painting, tries to empathize struggle to adaptation, endangerment, and extinction confronted by nature and wildlife.

The exhibition displayed various other environment-related paintings that brought together traditional arts and paintings to communicate the risk, opportunities, and impacts of climate change faced by the country.

The exhibition aims to enable re-imagination of traditional Bhutanese arts with environmental accuracy, which is unique and original. It highlighted how climate change affects traditional lifestyles of Bhutan.

“We wanted to give the message through traditional arts to say that even though Bhutan’s contribution to climate change is very small, the effect is actually very large and even more magnified to the people living traditional lives,” said Ruchika Goel from Singapore who conceptualized the exhibition.

She said that many things in environmental studies were not easy to understand and imagine. “Art is one way to humanize the concept. When showing them in pictures, they start to care and acknowledge that it’s happening.”

One of the artists, Sangay Khandu’s painting using four friends received mixed comments from the viewers because the painting had rabbit missing among the four friends.

Sangay Khandu said that his art showed to the audience the kind of future where some species could have gone extinct due to climate change.

The artist said that it was hard to explain the concept of climate change to the local audience during the exhibition because they did not experience the threat and impact. “They don’t believe and say that it won’t happen. But, having experienced the impact and threat, tourists easily understood the concept,” said Sangay Khandu.

The environment art at the exhibition used various details like the colour of the sky, potential landscapes of climate change, plastics making up the natural environment, flooding and wildlife security, among others.

In Spirit And In Deed, art by Thinley Gyeltshen that has Buddha holding a sapling in his palm, highlighted the message that conservation and spirituality could be the answer to curb climate change issues.

Ruchika Goel said that many recognised this medium of communicating environmental issues as an important method.

“Usually when we discuss environmental change, it’s in reports, in agendas and in meetings, which are accessible only to the selective group. But, when you translate it to culture, into arts and into the way of living, it becomes more relevant to people,” she said.

Artists are taking part in the exhibition for the first and the exhibition that began since Monday will be open to the public until 4pm today at Folk heritage museum ground in Kawajangsa, Thimphu.