There have been numerous talented artists throughout the history of Chinese painting. They have produced countless magnificent paintings that have contributed to the excellent Chinese culture. But most of the great artists throughout the ages have tended to specialize in one particular skill, style, or subject matter. Those who excelled at landscape painting were rarely proficient in flower and bird painting. Those who were proficient in flower and bird painting were rarely adept at figure painting; and so on and so forth. H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, however, is proficient in all subject matters—whether landscape, flowers and birds, animals, fish, insects, or figures. With respect to artistic techniques, he has excelled at meticulous painting, freehand brushwork, splash-ink style, and many others. In all of these areas, His Holiness has demonstrated real traditional skills and originality.
These characteristics of His Holiness’s paintings have long ago been confirmed by art experts and collectors. In 2000, paintings by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III entitled “Majesty” and “Venerable Da Li Won” sold at an international auction for US$2,125,327 and US$2,207,912, respectively. At that time, those sales set new records for the highest priced painting of any living oriental artist in the world as well as the highest priced Chinese paintings ever sold at an auction. Various media reported on those two sales and praised H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III as a consummate artist who is unprecedented in the history of Chinese painting.
In 2007, a painting by His Holiness of lotus flowers entitled “Two Flowers; One Lotus Capsule; One Dharma Nature” sold for U.S.$300,000 per square foot. That painting contains His Holiness’s signature in the form of the two Chinese characters “Wan Ko”, His Holiness’s fingerprint, and His Holiness’s calligraphy and paintings seal. A plum blossom painting by His Holiness sold for U.S.$210,000 per square foot. That painting contains His Holiness’s signature in the form of the two Chinese characters “Wan Ko” and His Holiness’s fingerprint. There is another painting by His Holiness entitled “Pasture in Spring (A Sheppard Boy Herding Cattle).” On that painting His Holiness inscribed in Chinese characters “Dorje Chang Buddha III Wan Ko Yeshe Norbu.” That painting also contains His Holiness’s fingerprint and dharma king seal. It truly is a rare and precious work of art. Although an offer was made to purchase that painting for U.S.$540,000 per square foot, that offer was lower than the selling price set by the International Buddhism Sangha Association of U.S.$900,000 per square foot. Thus, the sale was not consummated.
In the Spring of 2015, the Ink Lotus by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III was auctioned in New York for $16.5 Million. That set the highest auction price in history per square footage, considering that the painting is only 10 feet in area.
In his art, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III has indeed assimilated the essence of traditional Chinese painting. Not only has His Holiness learned from the painting traditions of Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasty scholars, His Holiness has also easily mastered the grand and vigorous style of pre-Song Dynasty painting. Yet, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III has not merely emulated the techniques of any one painter or any one school. His Holiness has learned from ancient artistry and has also learned from nature. Combining the two, His Holiness has created a novel and unique style of his own. From a careful examination of paintings by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, it is not difficult to see the legacy of tradition and the spirit of originality.