By combining Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama (spiritual and temporal leader of the Tibetan Government in Exile), with Yoda, a character from the Star Wars franchise, this painting depicts a transformation of two well known figures into a humorous abstraction, in an attempt to capture the kindness and wisdom embodied in each personality.
This portrait was inspired when the artist attended a public discourse by the Dalai Lama at Bodhgaya, India, in January 2005. After reflecting on how much the Dalai Lama resembled Yoda in his mannerisms and vocal inflections, an image of the two combined personalities emerged and was sketched several months later on paper. It was then refined and painted on canvas using acrylics.
Both the Star Wars fictional Jedi order (a monastic order of which Yoda is a master) and Buddhism contain key teachings on transformation. The teachings emphasise the ability and potential to transform one’s unwholesome and deleterious mental habits and world views, into positive and beneficial ones.