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Buddhas, dragons and horses, oh my! Contemporary art in Bhutan – Terton Gallery interview


Bhutan’s contemporary artists are exploring spiritual expression as development creeps towards Shangri-La.

Art Radar spoke with Kelly Dorji (b. Thimphu), star of Indian films and founder of Bhutan’s Terton Gallery, to find out about contemporary art in the remote kingdom and whether the gallery’s artists measure success in terms of Gross National Happiness (GNH).

Wedged between India and China, the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan is one of Asia’s most remote countries. In 1972, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck coined the phrase “Gross National Happiness”, an initiative whereby Buddhist values would take precedence over many of the ‘vices’ found in modern western countries. By 2006, Bhutan gained worldwide attention  when it was crowned the ‘happiest country in Asia’ and the ‘eighth happiest country in the world’ based on a global survey in Business Week magazine.


“Gross National Happiness” measures the country’s well-being based on economic, environmental, physical, mental, workplace, social and political wellness, instead of the standard yardstick of GDP, or Gross Domestic Product. This alternative, more avowedly spiritual worldview is apparent throughout Bhutan’s culture, including its contemporary art. Continue reading Buddhas, dragons and horses, oh my! Contemporary art in Bhutan – Terton Gallery interview

Survival Camp

VAST Bhutan organized a summer survival camp, which was a part of the annual summer camp held in VAST studio. The interested students and VAST student members from Thimphu participated in the survival camp which was for just one night.
Everyone led by some senior members started their journey in the morning carrying heavy rations up the mountain hill. The camp was mainly organized to polish the skills of the students on how to survive in difficult circumstances. Upon reaching the destination, they stayed in the tents with chill wind outside for a night.

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Make a wish “3” was focused on coming together with a group of thirty elderly men and women from a very little visited place of Trongsa known as Nobjikorphu. The habitants there are known as the Monpas.

20 volunteers from VAST Bhutan fused with the selected group of Monpas who have never been out of their village shells. Bringing them to the urban sites of Bhutan filled their hearts with joy. They were brought to Punakha and Thimphu to visit many holy places. The young volunteers even took them on an exciting expedition around the capital.

VAST Bhutan also organized a free, personal clinical check up for all the Monpa participants. There were religious movie screenings every night to entertain them and broaden their minds on religious contexts.

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