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Behind the Himalayas

In a review of the Sackler exhibition, February 14, 1999, Benjamin Forgey of the Washington Post writes: "For centuries this daily, gale-force blast of air has shaped both the earth and the architecture of Mustang, a lonely, and outcropping of northern Nepal. Together, land and buildings form a region that is as stark and striking as any on Earth. The buildings, made of packed earth and ritualistically stained with natural clay pigments, "seem as if they just erupt out of the ground by themselves" says Australian architect-painter Robert Powell .... And all the buildings bear visible markings of prayer. "Everything touched by man in Mustang has a ritual significance," observes guest curator Mary Slusser, a senior research associate at the Sackler ..."

Michael O'Sullivan in The Washington Post Weekend, February 19, 1999 review: 'Mustang': Evocative Fact and Fiction: "soul is precisely what these soulless buildings possess. In the apparently inert structures - built not only to provide protection from the elements but from a host of dangerous spirit beings - Powell is able to visualise what Tibet scholar Roberto Vitali in his introduction to the show's catalogue calls a "noumenon" - a reality beyond the physical that can be known only through intuition and not through the senses .... the skill he exhibits in capturing something that lies beyond what can be seen. It is a skill that surpasses even his obsessive technical proficiency and belies the fact that he composes his work by using precise measurements, photographs and clay samples for color accuracy.

Robert Vitali in his Introduction to the book 'Earth. Door Sky . Door: Paintings of Mustang by Robert Powell", Serindia Publications, p. 15: "Rob paints the language man and nature invented together to communicate on the Tibetan plateau. The paintings of the shrines to the gods, the gates of the ancestors, the caves expanded and arranged by man in a complex system of floors, galleries and ladders, show that he too has come to understand the game between man and nature at at these altitudes."

Behind the Himalayas | Exhibitions