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Nepalese Artist Tsherin Sherpa Brings Contemporary Buddhist Art to California

All Things Considered by Tsherin Sherpa, 2104. Pale gold leaf, acrylic, and ink on cotton. Elaine W. Ng and Fabio Rossi Collection. From

Nepalese artist Tsherin Sherpa’s exhibition Different Worlds, which showcases his captivating blend of traditional and contemporary art styles from East and West, will be held at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art in northern California, opening on 20 January, with a reception on 27 January.

Born in Kathmandu, Sherpa immigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1998, where his art was shaped by his experiences within the Himalayan diaspora and his thangka painting training.

“Growing up in Nepal, I was immersed in Buddhist culture and iconography,” Sherpa reflected. “Even though I was not a monk, I studied Buddhist scriptures in a nearby monastery. So alongside the traditional art, I was steeped in the meaning of it.” (Sonoma Valley Sun)

In a recent interview with the Asia Society Texas Center, Sherpa said: “I was trained as a traditional thanka painter by my father. After arriving in America, I started incorporating my skills and knowledge in traditional thanka to create contemporary works that expresses [sic] my personal social concerns in the contemporary context.” (YouTube)  

His journey in thangka painting involved five years of mastering the basics, followed by continuous skill refinement. Only in recent years did Sherpa delve into contemporary forms, resulting in a distinctive blend of cultural heritage and modern perspectives.

“Tsherin Sherpa’s work is an extraordinary synthesis of traditional Himalayan culture and practices, and cutting-edge contemporary art, which makes for a unique and inspiring exhibition. His work bridges continents and cultures,” said Monterey Museum of Art executive director Linda Keaton. “We hope the Bay Area community enjoys this very special opportunity to experience the work of this globally renowned artist.” (Sonoma Valley Sun)


Sherpa’s artistic prowess extends beyond California, with exhibitions across the US, Europe, and Asia. Notably, he represented Nepal at the Venice Biennale in 2022, and participated in other international events, showcasing his work in prestigious collections globally.

Owen Duffy, the Nancy C. Allen curator & director of exhibitions at the Asia Society Texas, noted his appreciation of Sherpa’s work: “One of my favorite aspects of Tsherin Sherpa’s work is the way that he includes the visual language of graphic novels, cartoons, comics, commercial branding, logos, and these sorts of things, with the language of traditional thangka painting.” He elaborated: “You might think that these things are completely at odds, when visually and formally they actually share quite a few similarities.” (YouTube)

In February 2022, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts hosted Sherpa’s first museum mid-career retrospective, titled Tsherin Sherpa: Spirits. The retrospective traveled to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, and to the Asia Society in Houston, Texas, in September 2023. Sherpa’s journey from Kathmandu to California has highlighted his ability to seamlessly blend traditional roots with contemporary influences in his globally recognized art.


His honors include taking part in the Venice Biennale in 2022, the Yokohama Triennale in 2020, the Yinchuan Biennale in 2018, the Kathmandu Triennale in 2017, the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art in Brisbane in 2015–16, and the Dhaka Art Summit in 2014. He earned the Asia Arts Game Changer Award in 2023 for his contribution to contemporary art.

The Different Worlds exhibition is scheduled to remain on display at the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art until 28 April, 2024.

See more

‘Different Worlds’ at SV Museum (Sonoma Valley Sun)
‘Tsherin Sherpa: Spirits’ | On view at Asia Society Texas (YouTube)
Exhibition Reception: Tsherin Sherpa: Different Worlds (Sonoma County)
Tsherin Sherpa’s “Corrupted” Thangka Art (Hyperallergic)
Active Blur: An Interview with Tsherin Sherpa (Art21 Magazine)

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