Tibetan artist Karma Phuntsok's painting 'Self Sacrifice in Tibet'

Tibetan artist Karma Phuntsok’s painting ‘Self Sacrifice in Tibet’ (2011) is a critique, through mimicry of a painting, ‘The Meeting of the General and the Monk in Kardze in 1936′, a painting that was a collaboration in 1980 between Tibetan painter Rigzin Namgyal and a Chinese painter whose name is Tibetanized as Mis Ting Kha’e. In Karma Phuntsok’s painting, Mao in military uniform looks towards a can of gasoline, with the oil connecting images of 13 Tibetans who had self-immolated amidst flames (there were 13 at the time the painting was created), including the first Tibetan to set fire to himself, Thubten Ngodrup (in April, 1998), and the first to self-immolate inside Tibet, Tapey. In each top corner there is a burning standing figure. Beneath Mao and the self-immolators are workers and soldiers holding aloft Mao’s Little Red Book, resonant of images from Cultural Revolution-era Socialist Realism propaganda. Leigh Sangster writes: “Karma Phuntsok was seeking to make the point that the self-immolations are evidence that the glorified Socialist future promised has failed to deliver. ‘Tibet is still the 1960s for Tibetans,’ says Karma Phuntsok, who links successive generations’ suffering.” (‘The Work of Art in the Age of Self-Immolation’ Leigh Sangster, Journal of the Society of Cultural Anthropology, April, 2012). Karma Phuntsok lives in Australia. http://www.karmaart.com/ Picture used by kind permission of the artist.