Towards the last two months of my last visit to India in the spring of 2012, I encountered the Tibetan community in exile in India experiencing painful news of their people self-immolating in fire one after another in China-occupied Tibet. My experiences in the past visits in India (drawing a cremation site in Varanasi, documenting fire pits, cremation alters, and contemplating on life and death around fire) synchronized with this particular movement, an extreme way of ‘offering’ their bodies to ‘fire’ for asking freedom and peace.I could not help drawing large and small drawings as emotional response and with a sense of mourning.

After coming back to Vancouver, the self-immolation kept happening and I felt that my personal and professional task is not finished.

I have come back to India to continue to document and draw under the same theme.

15 April 2014

For Thinley Namgyal

Brother Thinley,
One night, a few days after your passing on April 15, I looked at your picture again.
A painful picture of you in flame on the slope of dry soil.

I realized you wore your Chuba, the traditional dress of your culture
to show that you are Tibetan at your last moment of this life.

To show that your heart and dignity are not to be conquered by anybody.

For Thinley Namgyal

For Thinley Namgyal, 32 yrs old, who self immolated near Khangsar village, Tawu district, Kardze, Kham, Tibet on April 15 2014.

Picture of him smiling at a cafe and painful ones of him in burning protest came out from Tibet.

Such a painful non-violence act, painful to see you going like this. Painful to know that you were born and had lived in such a world where you had to choose the extreme act.

May stream of light cool down your body and you cross a bridge safely.