Buddha series: Mickey Mouse
Unframed canvas referencing traditional thangka painting. Instead of the Buddha Mickey Mouse sits at the centre of the piece. Gade plays with the thangka and traditional painting methods, using the flatness of the imagery, the approach to composition, the emphasis on details and patterns, the use of deific postures and the formal structures of religious Tibetan art as exemplified in 18th century thangka paintings. While a sense of age and history is evident in the historical thangka Gade creates his own histories by using worn textures, and warm aged colour palettes, his pieces feel eroded or decaying. This sense of reverence for the old is continued through Gade’s practice as he chooses to use traditional papers and canvas, and where possible, stone-ground, water-based pigments from metals, minerals and plants. However, his subject matter could not be further removed from these traditional materials works from the Buddha Series such as Mickey Mouse reflect Gade’s response to consumerism and pop culture. Wealth is depicted as the new religion and pop icons are idols that transcend cultural borders. Mickey Mouse has replaced the Buddha as the universal monarch. With these works Gade is critiquing Tibetan society and its move from the spiritual to the materialistic, a change from Eastern to Western belief systems. While focusing on the changes in Tibet, his work exemplifies the global changes in modern society.