PAUL HILKENSPAUL HILKENS (NL)

The year 2000 was a real turning point in Paul Hilkensílife, a young Dutch portrait photographer born in Swalmen (Limburg) now based in Amsterdam.
He decided to fly to Dharamsala to portrait H.H. the Dalai Lama and was lucky enough to be allowed to take pictures during a short public hearing. H.H. greeted him at the end, an episode that was going to take a special place in his heart.
Paul was also interested in the Tibetan culture and in particular in the impact of Buddhism; during that journey he was touched by the warmth, friendliness, positive attitude and happiness of the Tibetan people, notwithstanding their great suffering. He intended to find out more about their methods: that was Paulís opening towards Tibetan Buddhism. From then on he devoted his efforts to find out ways to contribute to the preservation of the Tibetan culture, that immediately became part of his photographic work.

After volunteering for Tibet Support Group, few years later, he took the initiative of organising a festival: Ticket For Tibet. Music has always been one of his passions. Paul used to play electric guitar and joined several bands in the past (timidly proud of sharing the same birth date as Jimi Hendrix, the 27th of November). In the period that preceded the first edition of Ticket For Tibet, in 2005 (the second edition took place in 2006 and the latest in 2008, with 10.000 visitors) the interest of the media for the Tibetan issue and their non violent struggle was beginning to fade. Young people did not know anymore what was happening in Tibet. Paul studied the various possibilities and took actions in order to get the attention from the media by means of a big event. The festival was going to be quite accessible to different kinds of audiences and it was also intended for people who werenít directly interested in Tibetan Buddhism or in Tibetan culture, but just in human rights. Paul wanted to organize a festival in order to put the colourful Tibetan culture under the spotlight, at least for one day. T4T can be considered an offspring of the famous Tibet Freedom concerts of the 90s, organised by the Beastie Boys and by the Milarepa Fund.
It was thanks to T4T that Paul met Tashi Norbu, with whom he soon developed a good professional relationship and a strong friendship. This led them to the collaboration for Tibet Art Movement. Art is not the only focus of TAM though, Tibetan culture and spirituality are also presented. The numerous teachings and lectures by Tibetan Lamas are quite overpowering in the agenda so far but Tashi and his co-artists present also other aspects of the Tibetan culture.

Paul believes that TAM is a beautiful way to bring Tibetan culture and the Tibetan life vision on the forefront in the Netherlands with a strong connection to Green Tara. The female Buddha of Enlightened Activity, known also as ďthe mother of liberationĒ, represents the virtues of success in work and achievements and she includes of course the aspect of compassion. She is not only part of Tibet or Tibetan Buddhism but she can be invoked by everybody as long as the right prerequisites and conditions are honoured. Paul sees TAM as a melting pot, where autonomous initiatives can have a place and find a voice. He hopes that in 2009 TAM will become an organic reality, still remaining indefinable, where people will feel welcome. Anyway it will stay rooted in the Tibetan culture.
When asked to comment on his photographic work in Tibet he declared that he sincerely hopes that not only the colourful aspect of the Tibetan culture will stand out but also the spiritual and mysterious one. His Tibetan landscapes carry also an environmental message: Paul hopes that by showing their beauty, people will become aware of what risks to disappear since nowadays the Tibetan environment is quite threatened.
Paulís website contains several photographic genres. Predominant is a sense of delicate and respectful distance combined with a profound interest and understanding. For him photography is the representation of the feeling of the photographer, undoubtedly combined with what is represented, a landscape or a person. The photographer and what is represented obviously concur to create a form of truth. No more than that. It is a positive attitude and beauty what Paul wishes his audience to experience while observing his work.
Does he has a message for the visitors of the website, for the Tibetans and for H.H. the Dalai Lama?
Never give up! As H.H. the Dalai Lama would say.
 

see also www.paulhilkens.com