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Wollongong Tibetfest 15-26 February 2006


The roof of the world ... downunder


Waratah Buddha 2005 (168 x 122cm 105036)

The collection of art works by Karma Phuntsok list here will be on exhibition and for sale at the Project Contemporary Art Space, 255 Keira Street, Wollongong between 15 - 26 February 2006 as part of Wollongong Tibetfest 2006. If you are interested in viewing or purchasing any of these works please contact the artist at or on 02 66331254. Karma will also be in attendance at the exhibition during various stages of the showing. See also the artist's website at for additional information and works for sale.

Karma Phuntsok, Kyogle studio, November 2005

Karma Phuntsok: "I was born in Lhasa, Tibet, 1952. During the uprising against the Chinese in 1959, my family fled Tibet, escaping into India as Refugees. Riding horseback for several days is still vivid in my memory. I studied drawing and painting throughout my school years in Refugee Schools in India. In 1973 I studied with a master of traditional Tibetan Thanka painting in Nepal. Since then I have been making paintings based on Tibetan Buddhist Deities. In 1981 I migrated to Australia, with my wife and son, and now live in the "Bush" near a small town. My paintings are collected by Buddhists world-wide, the Lowe Art Museum in Miami, USA , and several State and Regional Galleries in Australia. Collaborative paintings with Tim Johnson are also exhibited widely. My work can be found in many books and magazines, as well as on the internet ( My paintings are mostly experiments, interweaving traditional techniques and symbols, with modern inspirations."

The Art of Karma Phuntsok: "The art of Karma Phuntsok is a unique and dynamic expression of contemporary Buddhist Art. Though formally trained as a traditional Thanka painter, Karma applies different techniques and materials in his work, often creating futuristic expressions of the time-honoured craft. The startling beauty and richness which graces his work is influenced by his diverse life experiences: from a childhood in Tibet under Chinese oppression to life as a refugee in India; his love life in the Australian Bush, and the veneration with which he holds His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Internationally acclaimed, Karma's work is scattered throughout the world, in private collections and State galleries, and in Miami at the University of Miami and the Lowe Art Museum." [David Templeton 2002 & Carol Phuntsok]

1. Child Play Tara 1995 (108 x 78cm 95015)

This, the earliest painting by Karma Phuntsok in the Wollongong Festival of Tibet 2006 exhibition, reflects some of the surrealistic and psychedelic elements so evident in the artist's work on paper from the late eighties and early nineties. It is also a break from that style, moving towards one that is now typified by larger works utilising acrylic paint on canvas and linen. This is an optimistic work, featuring the simple child stick figure and flower, a butterfly, and Mother Tara, on a bed of colour. Tara is one of the celestial Bodhisattvas, or enlightened beings. A Bodhisattva lives in the spirit of enlightenment for the betterment of all human beings.

2. Six Arm Mahakala 1995 (50 x 36cm 95020)

Mahakala is a terrific protector deity. His myth speaks of his having been tamed by Avalokiteshvara (Compassion Deity). He is also considered to be a fierce form of compassion. The black colour represents the ultimate reality, voidness and the truth body of an enlightened being. He eradicates obstructions to the realisation of the enlightened mind. This painting uses airbrush techniques.

3. Green Goddess - Mother Tara 1998 (60 x 40cm 98017)

Tara is a saviour deity. She represents the active and miraculous activities of all the Buddhas of the three times. Her green colour signifies her association with the Buddha clan of Amoghasiddhi, the transcendental Buddha of the north. She transmutes the poison of envy into the positive energy of all-accomplishing wisdom. In her left hand she holds the stem of a blue lotus flower in the gesture of holding a triple lotus.The flower is pointing above the left shoulder as a symbol of purity and power. The youthful and beautiful Tara generates enthusiasm in those who adore her and gives them courage to take action.

4. Om Mani Padme Hum 1999 (167 x 122cm 99001)

Chenrezig is the archangelic Bodhisattva of Great Compassion. Also known as Avalokiteshvara, his vast vows to save all beings are said to be inconceivable. With his special Mantra "Om Mani Padme Hum" he travels to all the realms of the universe in his tireless quest to deliver beings from suffering. The Dalai Lamas are said to be the incarnations of Chenrezig and expressions of his divine concepts. The painting contains a background of the Tibetan form of the Om Mani Padme Hum mantra. At is centre is Chenrezig, sitting cross-legged on a lotus throne. He has one face and four arms. On his head is a five-pointed crown.

5. Amitayus I 2000 (51 x 41cm 100010)

Amitayus - Buddha for the attainment of longevity.

6. Amitayus II 2000 (41 x 30cm 100020)

Amitayus is the Buddha for attainment of longevity. The red colour represents desire, which is transformed into discriminating wisdom.

7. Windhorse 2001 (31 x 28cm 101005)

Wind carries the ethereal prayers and the good wishes of all the Buddhas. The horse carries the wish fulfilling gems in material forms to the four directions. The precious horse is one of the seven treasures of the Chakravartin or wheelturner. It symbolises mobility and speed. With an immaculate white coat, it is able to circumnavigate the earth three times a day.

8. Dyani Buddha of Eternal Life 2001 (107 x 76cm 101043)

Buddha of long life. Amitabha is the Buddha of Infinite Light. His skin color is red, reflecting his point on the compass - west - and his element is fire. He is depicted wit his hands in the gesture of meditation, holding a begging bowl overflowing with fruit, a symbol of spiritual fertility. His symbol is the lotus flower, as he is the ruler of the lotus family. Historically he is the oldest and most important of the five celestial Buddhas of the Mahayana. He is said to have earned his place through karmic effort.

9. Five Dyani Buddhas 2002 (213 x 183cm 102003)

Five Dyani Buddhas - also called the Five Tathagatthas, The Quintessence or Fivefold Heart (Nyingpo Nga) of the Diamond Path. This is the spiritual base of all microcosmic and macrocosmic phenomena, and is, therefore, the fivefold kernel and origin of all iconographic depictions.

10. This Sporting Life 2002 (167 x 122cm 102035)

Impermanence. This work displays the Buddhist element of impermanence of all sentient beings. It is viewed that all human activities performed between birth and death are like a game of sport.

11. Brunswick Buddha 2002 (122 x 167cm 102038)

This is a commemoration painting of the visit of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama to Melbourne in 2002. The Buddha is depicted in teaching posture (Mudra).

12. His Holiness Dalai Lama and the Karmapa 2003 (122 x 168cm cm 103014)

This painting depicts His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama with His Holiness the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje.

13. Potala 2003 (61 x 76cm 103015) 

View of the Potala Palace, Lhasa, from the road below. The artist and his family visited Lhasa, his birthplace, in 2002.

14. Queen Street, Brisbane 2003 (168 x 122cm 103018) 

This painting explores the textual myth of the "Western Paradise."

15. The Thermos Bearer - Mao in Tibet 2003 (101 x 121cm 103019) 

Chairman Mao is presented as bearing a thermos flask. He is depicted as a wrathful deity from the pantheon of Tibetan Buddhisim. The scenes show the 1949-1959 final occupation of Lhasa and the 1982 protest against the Chinese occupation. It also records the 1.2 million Tibetan victims.

16. Free Tibet 2003 (122 x 168cm 103037) 

This painting began it's life as a view of the former residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the Norbulingka palace grounds. Since the Chinese invasion of 1949-1959 the Norbulingka has been used as cash cow museum. These feelings resulted in the spraying of the work with the slogan 'Free Tibet' by the artist, reflecting his emotions concerning what the Chinese have done to his beloved Lhasa since the invasion.

17. Cassowary Forest 2004 (84 x 61cm 104018) 

Bush scene near Cape Tribulation, in Far North Queensland, with a Cassowary bird in the foreground.

18. Vehicles 2004 (102 x 122cm 104019)

This is a depiction is of the present state of the first motor vehicles (Baby Austins) to arrive in Tibet, during the time of the 13th Dalai Lama (1920?). They are now dumped outside, in the Norbulingka Palace grounds. Their treatment is a reflection of the lack of respect for aspects of Tibetan cultural heritage shown by the Chinese occupation forces.

19. Lineage Gurus 2004 (213 x 183cm 104021) 

A homage painting to the founders of the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

20. Green Tara 2004 (168 x 122cm 104030) 

21. Tertonpa Peter Parker 2005 (76 x 61cm 105001) 

Tertonpa means revealer of treasure teachings. In this painting the Peter Parker / Spiderman figure is revealing Buddha amidst the New York skyline, just as the people of the United States and other western countries are receiving revelations of the Buddha's teachings via His Holiness the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leaders.

22. The Three Precious Jewels 2005 (168 x 366cm 105002)

3 panels. The three celestial Bodhisattvas are thought of as archangelic protectors, representing the power (Vajrapani), compassion (Chenrezig) and wisdom (Manjushri) of all the Buddhas of the three times.

23. Melbourne White Pages 2005 (56 x 46cm 105011) 

Buddhism recognises that all beings have an innate nature of clear mind, here represented by the Melbourne phone book entries.

24. Melbourne Tara 2005 (61 x 56cm 105013)

White Tara in front of a Melbourne hospital. White Tara is a female bodhisattva who symbolizes compassion. She protects those who revere her from danger, pain and anxiety. She is the embodiment of motherly love. Her right hand is held in the gesture of protection and in her left hand she holds a triple lotus flower. She has a third eye on her forehead and eyes on the palms of her hands and the soles of her feet. These eyes symbolise her capacity to know suffering in all regions of the world. She is the most revered deity of protection.Both Green and White Tara sprang from a single tear of Avalokiteshvara and are considered his partners. White Tara embodies his wisdom.

25. Maha Muni 2005 (76 x 61cm 105015)

Buddha Shakyamuni sits in the lotus or Diamond posture. He touches the earth with the tip of his right hand to call upon the mother earth herself to bear witness to his long evolutionary struggle, over billions of lifetimes, to come to this moment. His left hand is in contemplation gesture (Mudra).

26. Buddha and Bodhisattvas 2005 (76 x 90cm 105017)

27. Diety of Compassion 2005 (76 x 61cm 105018)

Chenrezig or Avalokiteshvara is the Bodhisattva of Compassion.

28. Waratah Buddha 2005 (56 x 46cm 105021)

29. Waratah Buddha II 2005 (168 x 122cm 105036)

30. Highrise 2005 (61 x 91cm 105043)

Features a standing Chenrezig and a rooftop view of Melbourne.

31. Vajrasattva in Melbourne 2005 (66 x 766cm 105044)


Tatjana and Mirabai Blau, Buddhist Symbols, Sterling, New York, 2003, 240p.


In the compilation of this site I would like especially like to thank Karma Phuntsok and Carol Phuntsok.

Site last updated: 1 January 2006. Return to Wollongong Dharma Collective.

MOHome | Australian Greens Policy on Tibet | Tibet Groups in Australia | Wollongong Dharma Collective
Tibet on Film 1921-84 | Tibet on Film 1985-2005 | Index to Tibet on Film | Edinburgh | Karma | Links