A mass of stickers and cut collage forms the outline of the Buddha at the moment of enlightenment. Airplanes, rockets, and other vehicles travel out through the space of his massive halo. From a purely Buddhist standpoint, the myriad surrounding figures could be referencing the attack of Mara, who rules over the realm of illusion and the endless cycle of rebirth. At the moment of enlightenment, it was Mara who sent his army to stop the Buddha by tempting him with material desires, lust, and passions, all of which ultimately took the form of violence. The Buddha himself is made up of a bright, textually dense mass of imagery that in its entirety defies comprehension, but one is seductively drawn in all the same and rewarded with a rich tapestry of familiar and appealing forms as well as a collage of whimsical texts and captions questioning the political status quo: a swarm of minutiae that demands (and deserves) the viewer’s careful attention but in the process rapidly distracts from the whole. This is the key to Gyatso’s making us experience losing sight of the Buddha amid the irrelevant but glittering fragments of mass-produced consumer media.
Sold by the artist to the current owners, Margaret Scott and David Teplitzky, in 2011.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Tibet and India: Buddhist Traditions and Transformations," February 8, 2014–June 8, 2014.