Free Spirit Festival Free Spirit Festival - celebration of Tibetan art and culture, especially reflecting contemporary life.

Sonam Dhondup

Born in 1971 in Lhasa, Tibet.

Art was my favourite subject in school. I dropped out of school after the primary level, hoping to go to an art school. I spent a lot of time sketching at the Lhasa People's Museum of Art.

In 1982 I began to study Tibetan traditional art from a paid tutor. However, all aspects of any artistic creation are kept under strict control of the Communist Party. At the same time, there is a new yearning for freedom. This is what I discovered eventually, and that was what I wanted to paint.

I decided to go to India. In 1987 I left Lhasa. I discovered that in the exile Tibetan society in India there were only a few artists who were not painting in the traditional style.

The Department of Education of the Tibetan Government-in-exile offered me the position of resident artist in their Publication Department.

In 1990 we managed to bring out the first issue of Homeland (Pha-yul), a magazine for boys and girls, and in 1992 the little children's magazine Snow Land (Gangs-ljongs). both magazines were an instant success with Tibetan children.

Since 1987, I have designed covers and done illustraitons for over 30 books, and I continue to publish cartoons for the Tibetan language newspaper Tibet Times (Bod-Kyi-dus-bab). I have finished over twenty-five paintings (all oils). A few were reproduced in the Tibetan literary magainze Tsampa.

I had two exhibitions held in Dharamshala. One was in 1999 when Amnye Machen Institute organied the exhibition of my oil paintings which was titled "Remembering Tibet".

In 2001, Sarah Buddhist Dialectics Institute organised the exhibition of oil painting titled "Life on the Highland".

Sonam Dhondup will present some of his works at the Free Spirit Festival.