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.

5 June 2019

Remembering Ven. Palden Gyatso

To remember Gen Palden Gyasto la, who passed away on November 30, 2018 in Dharamsala.

He, a Tibetan Buddhist monk, is known to be the prisoner of conscience who had served the longest (33 years) term of any Tibetan political prisoner in Chinese prisons and labour camps.

I had never met him in person, however, always held deep respect him for his strength and courage to the world to talk about his painful experience to help others in the same situation.

I had wanted to draw him when I heard the news of his passing in 2018.  I was deeply saddened however felt a relief he did not have to go through pain anymore in this life time.

I could not start drawing somehow so I kept carrying a piece of paper whenever I travelled to, till now.

Completed in Gwangju, Korea, where over a thousand people suffered from the same kind of pain for the same reason.  May he come back as a brilliant being again without any suffering.

I know that it was beyond my ability to express the depth of his eyes. 

Note:  I really love the photo of Gen la on the right. I draw this drawing from this photo but do not know the photographer name.
Please let me know if you know.  I would like to leave a credit here.