“I am interested in the state of people who are living in this ever-changing society.”

Born 1971, Lhasa, Tibet. Lives and works in Tibet

Gade is half Chinese, but it’s the Tibetan tradition that he embraces, and “Tibet’s anonymous ancient artists” that he reveres. In his quiet way, however, he also rebels against the rigidly religious nature of tradition, and the chokehold it retains on many outsiders’ view of Tibet. For Gade, Tibet is not a changeless museum of mysticism. It is TV and KFC, Levi’s and Budweiser. Rather than trying to depict a fantasy Tibet of gods and monsters and sacred ritual, Gade has always striven “to paint my Tibet, the one I grew up in and belong to”. He uses traditional iconography, cloth and pigments. But his scroll-format paintings are as likely to include Ronald McDonald or Spiderman as the Buddha. The 300 lotus thrones in Precious Objects (2007) hold cigarettes, thermoses, gas masks, instant noodles, and sewing needles. “Many people simplify Tibet,” Gade says. “They ask, How can Tibet have things like Christmas trees or fast food or Nikes? But young Tibetans have already accepted these things.”

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