KT2017: The exhibit at Taragaon Museum

KT2017: The exhibit at Taragaon Museum

A gem of a museum as the last of the major venues of the Triennale, only to be reached after an almost insufferable drive across town, on the extended grounds of the Hyatt Hotel and very near to Bouddhanath Stupa. (Please refer to my older architectural post here: The TARAGAON MUSEUM in Kathmandu).


In this somewhat more intimate setting of smaller individual buildings half a dozen of Nepali artists show their lovely works. Upon arrival a striking sculpture catches the attention immediately upon ascending the stairs from the parking lot:

Bhuwan Thapa (Nepal, 1969)
Purna Kalasha (Full/Complete vessel), 2017

Bhuwan Thapa is a true sculptor. The artist has a sense for scale and material. In this sculpture the artist makes a transparent vessel – a vessel of abundance as known in Hinduism – which is filled with stones inscribed with names of artists, famous people and people he knows. In the work, the metal exterior can be found in dialogue with the organic form of the stones within.

 


 

Prithvi Shrestha (Nepal, 1977)
Pillow (Takiya), 2017

Performance is at the heart of the work of this artist. The artist uses himself as performer in direct and short performances. In their clear forms the performances remind us of daily rituals. The artist often makes use of sound. For Kathmandu Triennale the artist makes a new video installation. He records himself surrounded by different sounds referring to moments between sunrise and sunset.

 


Hit Man Gurung (Nepal, 1986
I have to feed myself, my family and my country, 2017

Hitman Gurung is an artist who’s work takes an engaged and activist position. He uses his art to bring to light social problems dealing with migration and discrimination. For him art is only meaningful when the aesthetic relates to the ethical. For Kathmandu Triennale the artist creates an installation consisting of a series of small drawings (in light boxes) and two coffins. The conditions of the workers going to Qatar or to the Middle East and other destinations are questioned. In this work the artist spans a scope from the fate of anonymous workers in relation to their contribution to the economy of the country.

 


S.C. Suman (Nepal, 1961)
Jhaap, 2017

The work of the artist S.C. Suman is situated within the tradition of Mithila painting and ritual art. S.C. Suman makes for the Triennale three new works on paper in relation to the theme of The City. As an artist practicing a craft originally only executed by women, he preserves and contemporarises the practice. The paintings are on view in the Taragaon Museum. In the Nepali Art Council (and some other locations) one can also see his installation of jhaap, a colorful paper fixture painted traditional motifs.

 


Karan Shrestha (Nepal, 1985)
Eveything at centre is a little off, 2017

The work of Karan Shrestha is a mixed-media installation where the artist gives a kind of allegorical view on the city of Kathmandu. The artist is combining different kind of footage of the city of Kathmandu. The drawing of the Kathmandu valley is a detailed account where the artist merges in a symbolic way past and present events in the city.


 

… and a few more impressions of art shown at the lovely Taragaon grounds:

 

… and make sure to check out the other blogposts about #KathmanduTriennale2017:

KT2017: the exhibit at Nepal Art Council
KT2017: The exhibit at Patan Museum

KT2017: “Built/Unbuilt” exhibit focussing on migration and identity

 

KT2017: The exhibit at Patan Museum

KT2017: The exhibit at Patan Museum

At Patan Museum there is a smaller number of Nepali artists in an overall exquisite exhibit. Works can be found in the left wing (upon entering) on several floors, as well as in the garden behind the museum.

Upon entering an intriguing international work (by Cuban artist Ricardo Brey) immediately catches the eye in the courtyard of the museum:

Ricardo Brey (Cuba, 1955 ), Dust bathing, 2017

 

There are also a number of great installations in the gardens, most of all the intriguing tent with video installation of Tayeba Begum Lipi

and in the garden studios the wonderful mirror glass installation of ???

 

 

But let’s focus on the very interesting selection of artworks for the Patan Museum venue created by Nepali artists.


Jupiter Pradhan (Nepal, 1977)
The Ring, 2017

A wonderful installtion with five rings and faces positioned on rings which express different emotions, such as joy, anger, suprise, sadness, contentment. The artist has great respect for the fine workmanship of traditional craftsworkers and aspires to express their feelings with these carefully crafted masks.

 

 


Kunjan Tamang (Nepal, 1989)

Teko (support around us), 2015

A square black painted canvas is worked on with a whole series of staples. The staples are accumulated in the form resembling diagonal wooden beams used to support houses and temples damaged by the earthquake. The artist took an element we all know from the streets of Kathmandu, and made a rhythmic composition with it.

 

 


Saurganga Darshandhari (Nepal, 1980)
Mero Aama ko Thaili (My mother’s purse), 2017

This artist excels in printmaking and etching. In this medium she explores with delicacy and a sense for lines and traces issues that often deal with femininity. A personal sense of beauty is linked with motives which move between figuration and forms of abstraction. For the Kathmandu Triennale the artist conceived a brand new series of etchings and a sound installation ‘Mero Aama ko Thaili’. In each print the Thaili (purse) of her mother is the protagonist of the etching. A purse is here like a container – not only to keep money, but also to preserve memories and personal emotions.

 

 


Sunita Maharjan (Nepal)

As cities are a patchwork of neighborhoods and places, the work of Sunita Maharjan is like a collage of stitched pieces of textile on which she has transferred images. The work has a soft color over which the different urban elements are positioned in black lining. The artist observes the city and filters archetypical elements of it to make a rhythmic panoramically composition.

 

 


Youdhister Maharjan (Nepal,)

 

Newspapers are the main material for the work created by Boston-based Youdhister Maharjan for Kathmandu Triennale. The artist questions the daily information with which we are surrounded in making delicate cut-outs and collages using newspaper pages. The information becomes secondary, the play of forms, lines and shadows prevail. In a gentle and precise way the artist subverts the way we are informed daily about what’s happening in politics, economy and society as a whole. In the back garden of the Patan Museum the artists constructs a sculpture between trees just by piling up newspapers. The newspapers is used in the way a painter uses paint. Rain and sun will modify the work during the course of the exhibition.

 

See also these other posts on KT2017:

http://www.nepalnow.blog/kt2017-exhibit-nepal-art-council/

http://www.nepalnow.blog/kt2017-builtunbuilt-exhibit-focussing-on-migration-and-identity/


 

 


 

 

 

 

KT2017: the exhibit at Nepal Art Council

KT2017: the exhibit at Nepal Art Council

Simply fabulous! Having watched and promoted the contemporary art of Nepal for over a decade now, I am stunned to see the enormous strides this art and its artists have made under the wonderful curation of  Philippe Van Cauteren and the excellent management of Siddhartha Arts Foundation. All three stories of the Nepal Arts Council present works of a high calibre – exciting, innovative, thought-provoking … a total joy to behold.

Nepal Arts Council is a building with a history. Dating back to the 1990’s it was conceived and brought into being by the great Lain Singh Bangdel, the first modern master of Nepali painting. Upon his return from France he advocated that Nepal needed a “home” for the arts and managed to get the land and later build the 4-storied airy structure with funds totally from within Nepal. Up to this day there are complaints from artists and patrons that he didn’t create a “white box gallery”, but Bangdel did so very much on purpose as he knew all about Nepal’s problems with instable electricity, thus lighting, didn’t expect to change this in the years to come (and it still hasn’t, even though black-outs have beome much more infrequent just recently) and went on to equip the exhibition quarters with milk glass windows.

And even from the outside the building presents itself in fine state, painted the characteristic blue of the TRIENNALE:

 

In my report on the TRIENNALE 2017 I will focus on the participating Nepali artists (25 out of the total 70) as it makes sense for this blog. TRIENNALE 2017 as a 2-week mega event is themed “The city: My studio / The city: My life” and is an invitation to discover artists from more than 25 countries in total. It comprises a multitude of artistic expressions: sculpture, painting, installation, video, performance, drawings and more.   Artists from Nepal are exhibited side by side with artists from other cultural backgrounds and experiences. Next to a dozen collateral venues there are four major ones: Taragaon Museum in Bouddha, Patan Museum, Siddhartha Art Gallery, and Nepal Art Council at Baber Mahal, on which this first blogpost will focus.


Manish Lal Shrestha (Nepal, 1977)

Project 1336m, 2017

Entering the building your attention is immediately grabbed by the intriguing and playful interactive installation of Manish Lal Shrestha: long colorful wooly ropes, arranged in a playful heap and meant to be touched and felt and romped around in.

The 1336m (elevation of Kathmandu) knitted ropes continue to be produced during the exhibition by a team of friendly and communicative volunteers. Visitors can watch the knitting (machine), sewing, and stuffing. Manish Lal emphasizes the notions of labor, communality, and process. On the last day of the exhibition the knitted rope will be carried through the city as a procession.

 


Bidhata KC (Nepal, 1978)

Artist Bidhata KC realized a new, gigantic structure placed over the three floors of the Nepal Art Council. The artists makes a contemporary ‘copy’ of the Machhindranath chariot. In reconstructing the chariot  with modern industrial materials, the artist questions the link between (religious) traditions and the situation of the city today. A tribute to the beauty of this ancient tradition, at the same time the artist raises valid questions.

The large space is then also dominated by a huge sculptural work of artist Bidhata K.C., one of three spread over the whole building.

The artist departs from her painting by creating these gigantic contemporary copies of the Machindranath Chariot of religious festivals. In reconstructing this chariot with modern industrial  materials, the artist questions the link between (religious) traditions and the situation of the city today. This impressive body of work is a tribute to the beauty of this ancient tradition, while at the same time being questioned by Bidhata.

Also on the ground floor amongst the international artists we find a video installation by Bangladeshi artist Mahbubur Rahman which calls for a special mention as it it constitutes a moving and totally respectful work on the topic of transgender. We enter the installation via a life-like bedroom/livingroom with real belongings and furniture only to step into the dark video chamber where a double projection provides insight into the intricate life of a Nepal transgender woman. We see the husband and father of two at home and in the street while at the same time watching him/her get ready to go to a party. There is no moment of awkwardness in watching this heart-wrenching and powerful double film.

Another international artist needs to be mentioned as we ascend the stairs to the first floor of the building. Rumanian artist Ciprian Muresan has installed a cardboard model of a few neighbourhoods in Bucarest as an obstacle for the visitor. Layed out on the floor of the landing, the visitor is obliged to destroy the city by walking on it. The work connects the 1977 earthquake of Bucharest with the 2015 earthquake in Nepal.


Kailash K. Shrestha

Also on the wall of the first floor landing a wonderful diptych by Kailash Shrestha. In this seemingly “unfinished” work, we see caps and gowns of possibly powerful men. By omitting faces and hands the artist makes a gentle statement on status and power, leaving to the eye only the actual attributes which define a person’s status.

Second floor Nepal Council

Entering the second floor exhibition hall the another ceiling-high sculpture of Bidhata K.C. (see collage beginning of this post) catches the eye in the diffusely lit and very well-appointed wide room.

 


Ang Tsherin Sherpa (Nepal/USA, 1968)

California-based Ang Tsherin Sherpa is known for his paintings where he transforms traditional images by merging them with contemporary elements. For Kathmandu Triennale the artist makes an installation in the form of a mandala made of debris from the 2015 earthquakes. Elements, as remnants of the destructive force of nature, are arranged into the perfect form of a mandala symbolizing the cosmos.

Known for his paintings where he transforms traditional images by merging them with contemporary elements, the artist has here created an installation in the form of a mandala of debris from the 2015 earthquake. The elements, as remnants of the destructive force of nature, are arranged into the perfect form of a mandala symbolizing the cosmos.


Pratima Thakali (Nepal, 1987)

The Glimpse of Contact, 2017

“This city is not my home; however, it has given me a space to live in (temporarily). As a migrant, moving from one place to another, I cannot own the space of this city but the memories. The fragments of spaces are the stories which I fold and unfold through ordinary visuals. Dealing with collage of physical and mental space gives a sense of spatial memories in forms of temporary attachment, displacement, disorientation and decay of the space.”

 


Birendra Pratap Singh (Nepal, 1956)

City Drawings, 2010 (from Private Collection of Prithvi and Pratima Pande)

These drawings depict in a frank and often humorous style the different iconic places of Kathmandu, Patan and Bakhtapur. The nervous lines gives the depicted structures a sense of instability. Upon closer inspection visitors can find the artist merging elements of modern society with ancient Newari temples and settlements. Through these drawings the artist chronicles the changing city.


Sanjeev Maharjan (Nepal, 1983)

Maharjan’s works are often inspired from his social surrounding, which he represents through drawing, painting, photography, installation and murals. Through his work, he wants people to wake up and notice what they would normally pass by.


Sujan Chitrakar (Nepal, 1974)

ASON, 2017

Stories shape places and places foster stories. A place as old as Ason, in downtown Kathmandu, has an unending flow of events and memories. They play out around the gallis and chowks of Ason from generation to generation. The shops and homes, crumbling buildings and new structures, commerce and religion create a vibrant space. Happiness, hope and joy are layered over despair, displacement and sadness in the many told and untold stories that have settled down around Ason over time. Through a series of intimate conversations with fathers and sons, the artist anchors his work in Ason and through the space he is able to empathize with their personal experiences and the complexities of relationships. Within a patriarchal system, father and son relationships can be fraught, lacking in both compassion and conversation, but the presence of love cannot be denied. The artist captures the fragments of memories, stories, spaces, memorabilia and people that he has discovered over the time he has spent in Ason.


Sheelasha Rajbhandari (Nepal, 1988)

With this installation the artist pays tribute to her grandmother. Through objects, personal photographs and sound recordings Sheelasha Rajbhandari digs into the past, and sometimes forgotten history of her city through the personal stories and collected memories of her grandmother. The work is characterized by its intimacy and personal layers.

 

Third floor Nepal Council

Moving on to the light-filled third floor, we first see societal commentary in cartoon-like form.

 


Mehk Limbu (Nepal, 1985)

This work takes the form of a comic strip. Normally heroic stories are being told in comic strips but these painted comics are fragments telling the story of Nepali migrant workers and their unfortunate fate. A relation is made with the consequences of the blockade and the earthquake. A Pop Art like element such as a comic strip is used to tell the often tragic story of thousands and thousands of people. No phrases are written; empty speech bubbles are there for the spectator to imagine the dialogues accompanying the events.


Bikash Shrestha (Nepal, 1985)

The work of Bikash Shrestha consists of three cubic forms on which elements of different parts of Kathmandu are printed. The artists transfers elements of public space on a small sized intimate format. The wood refers to the traditional architecture of the old Kathmandu.


Sujan Dangol (Nepal, 1981)

If we don’t know where we come from, we don’t know where we are going, 2017

Sujan Dangol has been meeting and talking with refugees weeks prior to the opening of the Triennale. This video is the result of a collaboration between the artist and a group of urban refugees living in Kathmandu Valley. The video is straightforward and simply a recording of the game ‘musical chairs.’ This ‘performance’ by actual refugees functions as a metaphor for the harsh fate that they have been and are forced to go through. This banal, playful game makes us think about the lives of others who maybe quietly living around us.

And an exception will be made here, too, by mentioning a very impressive international artist (just like on the ground floor with Mahbubur Rahman’s video installation and on the second floor with Ciprian Muresan’s destroyed model of Bucarest) from China.

 


Song Dong (China, 1966)

Mandala City for Eating, 2017

Food is a recurring element in the work of Song Dong. On different occasions Song Dong has been building models of fictional cities made out of cookies, biscuits and candies. The cityscape of a city turned into a sweet utopia. For the occasion of Kathmandu Triennale the artist made a city in the form of a mandala with biscuits, wafers and candy. At the end of its completion the mandala is swept away by visitors of the exhibition who eat the edible city. During the exhibition an empty plinth with leftovers becomes a witness to the eating event. On two screens, the whole performance of ‘Mandala City for Eating’ is documented.

 

Here on the third floor is looms also the largest of Bidhata K.C.’s structures, third in her series which is spread over all three floors:

… and on the way down the stairs the visitor’s eyes fall upon one of the few paintings in the exhibition:


Laxman Karmacharya (Nepal, 1986)

Private Collection: Himalayan Bank Ltd.

This painting can be situated in the tradition of the Pop Art. The artist combines banal vernacular with religious imagery. A god being depicted as a superhero is an image which can be read from different perspectives. The artist connects an American icon, Superman with the iconic imagery of Hindu deity.

 

 

… and so much for the this first post on KATHMANDU TRIENNALE 2017, with many more to follow!

KT2017: “Built/Unbuilt” exhibit focussing on migration and identity

KT2017: “Built/Unbuilt” exhibit focussing on migration and identity

Artists from Doha and Kathmandu cooperated under the curation of Dina Bangdel on a project to research and artistically interpret the burning issues of what migration does to peoples identity: “Built/Unbuilt: Home/City”. More than 150 guests joined the opening at Tangalwood in Naxal, being treated to great art and even greater artist talks later in the evening, including a performance by Nepali artist Sunil Sigdel. The exhibition was inaugurated by the ambassador of Qatar and eminent Qatari artis Yousuf Ahmad was honored as “KT2017 Distinguished Artist”.

 

 

Close to 500,000 migrant workers live and work in Qatar, more or less slaving away to keep the fast-paced modernization and building boom of the small emirate going. A lot of media coverage has focused on the hardships the migrant workers suffer, the many deaths due to poor work safety – but recently conditions seem to have been improving.

So three Nepali artists set out to research the situation themselves, being invited to Doha for a period of two weeks. Sheelasha Rajbhandari, Hitmaan Gurung, and Mekh Limbu got to meet many workers, were invited to the many many Nepali organisations, and interacted in art projects with the workers. At the same time three artists from Doha were invited to Kathmandu to deal with the Triennale’s main topic: my city/my studio, namely Abdulla Al-Kuwari , Carolina Aranibar-Fernandez, and Emelina Soares.

Curator Dina Bangdel gives background information on the exciting “Built/Unbuilt: Home/City” exhibition

 

Dina, how did this project come about in the first place?

My longstanding interest in the built heritage and the dynamics of the urban landscape and the agency of the community have been central to my research, and has in this project combined both the curatorial intent within a strong research-based intervention. Notion that the city can be seen as an instigator and catalyst for creative narratives is at the core of this interdisciplinary focus. The experience is mediated through the voices/lenses of the diaspora Nepalis living in Doha to explore these spaces of liminality within the city. How do these communities express narratives of home, belonging, and self within the city? How do artistic expression/entanglements serve to ‘create communities’ within the urban fabric? Artists will then create a body of work that will respond to these transcultural intersections, the lived histories and memories, and narratives of Doha’s past histories.

 

Why these six artists?

The practices of the six artists that I have selected for this collaborative project complement the exploration of two cities: Doha and Kathmandu, with the notion of city serving as the catalyst for dialogue. The city of Doha has historically been a rich palimpsest of cultures—particularly those of South Asia—and the focus of this research-¬‐based curatorial project is on the ways in which artists experiences and identities will touch upon multivalent narratives, storytelling, and orality.
Qatar/Doha plays a critical part in this narrative of nation-¬‐building for both Qatar and Nepal. Qatar has the highest number of Nepali migrant workers, approximately 500,000 who have made Doha their ‘home’. This project therefore seeks to find the narratives of belonging, memory and self within a palimpsest of narratives—centered around the city and its unbuilt or rebuilt spaces. By bringing together Nepali artists and Doha-¬‐based artists in dialogue with the local communities with the city as catalyst, the aims are to examine the layers of narratives that emerge within the lived space.

And the very interesting works showed just that. In a series of photographic works Hitmaan Gurung and Sheelasha Rajbandhari played with the issue of identity when donning the work uniforms of Nepali migrant workers whilst standing next to them, dressed up in their personal clothes.

They also conducted workshops with the workers having them draw their families, getting in touch with the loss and missing of their loved ones (the workers can go home on a visit only every three years and often completely miss the growing up of their children):

Qatari artist Emelina Soarez presented a fascinating work of a “Persian carpet” made in the way of a sand mandala with earths from Qatar, Nepal, and India. She created a beautifully impermanent work of art an invited the guests to walk all over her “carpet”, making the different earths mingle beautifully:

The exhibit also featured video installations by Mekh Limbu (whose own father has been working in Qatar for more than 20 years and whom he got to see again after a period of two years during this project) and Doha-based Bolivian Carolina Aranibar Fernandez, as well as two works by Abdulla al Kuwari – one a rather sharp image of a Kathmandu scenery and the other a total blur, referring to the dust and chaos he experienced during his time in the city.

After the artists talked briefly about their works in the lovely upstairs showroom of Tangalwood, the guests took back to the garden to witness a performance by Nepali artist Sunil Sigdel who proceeded to draw blood from his fingertips, dabbing it up with cotton balls and then offering to the public “his last drops of blood” on a shovel and clad as a desert labourer.

 

The evening proceeded with a fascinating symposium session with both groups of artists, dealing with identity and migration and how they are personally affected, moderated by Dina Bangel and Christine Brosius of Heidelberg University (for the Nepali group) and Veeranganakumari Solanki Jamwal from India (for the Doha-based group).

Pan-South Asian exhibit with Nepali artists in Kolkata

Pan-South Asian exhibit with Nepali artists in Kolkata

“Things Lost/Remembering the Future” is a pan-South Asian exhibition at GANGES ART gallery in Kolkata that explores the ideas of loss, being and regeneration through the lens of personal and public memory. The exhibition is the first of a series that hopes to open up new channels of communication, and understanding, of the region’s unique political/historical reality and its cultural sub-texts. The opening will take place Saturday 25th March at 6pm.

Co-Curated by Kurchi Dasgupta

Curated by artists Kurchi Dasgupta and Amritah Sen, Things Lost/Remembering the Future focuses essentially on the small, the forgotten, the mis-represented as opposed to the official and the monumental. It looks upon the present from both the past and the future and investigates the processes through which historical narratives habitually emerge. We hope it will allow an alternative perception of history to spill through, one that links the South Asian experience to the larger, Global South.

One platform for 14 artists from 8 countries

This is possibly the first exhibition in Kolkata that brings together 14 artists from 8 South Asian countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka) on one platform. The works were selected with an eye on the unexpected in terms of media and content.

Some of the artists are globally established names, some are comparatively new, and a few are fresh graduates. The one aim was to magnify those rare, incisive voices that are consciously commenting on, critiquing and resisting the xenophobic and gender-biased, mainstream idea of the region’s history. The other was to give space to the forgotten and the personal, hoping this would evolve into an inclusive identity map that differs from the currently available version.

A specific, long term aim is to present rigorously curated shows on the theme in each of the involved countries, facilitating a dedicated exchange between cities and cultures, artists and institutions, ideas and viewers, the loaded present and an anthropocenic future. Bhutan will be taking part in the next edition.

Artists:
  • David Alesworth (Pakistan) (alesworth@gmail.com)
  • Kurchi Dasgupta (India) (+ 91 9654871180, kurchi.dasgupta@gmail.com)
  • Tayeba Begum Lipi (Bangladesh) (tayeba.lipi@gmail.com)
  • Huma Mulji (Pakistan) (hmulji@yahoo.com)
  • Aye Ko (Myanmar) (ayekoart@gmail.com)
  • Rahraw Omarzad (Afghanistan) (r.omarzad@gmail.com)
  • Pala Pothupitiye (Sri Lanka) (Pala72@gmail.com)
  • Ashmina Ranjit (Nepal) (ashmina@gmail.com)
  • Amritah Sen (India) (amritahs@gmail.com, +91 9830112217))
  • Sunil Sigdel (Nepal) (sunsee1979@gmail.com)
  • Thisath Thoradeniya (Sri Lanka)(thisath77@gmail.com)
  • Thyitar (Myanmar) (thyitarart@gmail.com)
  • Mustafa Zaman (Bangladesh) (mustafa.zaman21@gmail.com)
  • Maimoona Hussain (Maldives) (maena1982@gmail.com)

 

About Ganges Art Gallery

Since opening in September 2007, Ganges Art Gallery has organized and curated shows and retrospectives for an array of modern and contemporary artists from India and elsewhere in the subcontinent. These exhibitions have showcased the works of not just established but also upcoming artists working in painting, sculpture, video, photography and new media and whose practices are significant within cotemporary art and culture. One of our aims is to expose emerging talent through exhibitions at the gallery and participation in select international art fairs.

Located in a large, refurbished colonial structure in what is fast becoming Kolkata’s gallery hub, Ganges Art Gallery and its shows have received favourable reviews in newspapers and periodicals. We are looking to expand our presence overseas by engaging in strategic partnerships with museums and galleries of note in Asia, Europe and the United States.

Owned and managed by Smita Bajoria, Ganges is, in the future, looking to go beyond the boundaries of a traditional art gallery by hosting talks, art appreciation courses, film screenings and book readings. Our endeavour is to be a centre of creative and artistic excellence in a city synonymous with cultural activity.

33A, Jatin Das Road, Kolkata 700029, India | Tel: + 91 33 2465 3212 | gangesart@bajoria.in | Timings: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Sunday closed) | 2013 © Ganges Art Gallery.

See more from/about Kurchi Dasgupta here>

 

LaLit Interview with Philippe Van Cauteren on KT2017

LaLit Interview with Philippe Van Cauteren on KT2017

Repost of a very fine interview published today, March 20th 2017, in literary magazine LaLit. Learn much about the planning and total process of creating KATHMANDU TRIENNALE 2017 in this highly intelligent conversation with Belgian curator Philippe Van Cauteren.

Taking care of art:
Philippe Van Cauteren and the Kathmandu Triennale

Image: Philippe Van Cauteren, photo by Dirk Pauwels

 

Philippe Van Cauteren is the curator for the upcoming Kathmandu Triennale, which focuses on the theme of the city. He is the Artistic Director of Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (S.M.A.K.) in Ghent, Belgium. Cauteren has also worked as a freelance curator and publicist in Germany, Mexico, Chile and Brazil, and has been represented twice at the Venice Biennale. In 2015, he was appointed by the RUYA Foundation to curate the Iraqi Pavilion.

… I have this belief – it might be a romantic one – that art is as valid for society as is a butcher, supermarket, religion and law. Art is a means for healing. Through an intangible and nonfunctional way, art can have a therapeutic effect on society.

 

What does curation mean to you as a creative process?

The words “curation” and “curating” come to me with a certain ambivalence. It is only with the professionalisation of the art world that this word appears and has, at times, taken on a bigger importance than even the word “artist”. Recently, the famous curator Hans Ulrich Obrist was wondering if it was not time to find another word for “curator”. This, to me, indicates a problem with the word. If you look at the origin of the word from the latin word “curare”, it means to take care of and cherish. This would be the ideal perspective to look at curating – taking care of the artist by having a solid and substantial exchange to provoke or inspire the right process or intervention.

At the level of an exhibition like the Kathmandu Triennale, which is like a festival, curating is also about trying to understand the place where one works. As best as possible, you have to try to understand the cultural and social surrounding in which you are active. This is a complex element wherever you are active – whether Belgium, France, Iraq or Nepal – you are always an intruder, a guest. But it is about developing empathy for our surroundings and its contexts to identify good and meaningful interventions or additions.

 

In your curatorial statement you state, “An exhibition is namely a tool (for transformation) and an instrument, which generates meaning, and that which serves, in its spatial articulation, to make the predefined artwork to become ‘elastic.’” Can you go into this idea of elasticity as it seems pertinent to your curatorial understanding?

Yes, with the elasticity, I think and hope that we hold the notion that an art work is not a unidimensional thing – it is not something that can be read or understood in one way. It is not to be taken like a scientific model or mathematical proof. How an art work interacts with its surroundings and spectators means that it has a very flexible existence, it always interacts with a plurality of people. What an art work means for you does not necessarily mean the same for me, in this sense, it has an elastic way of existence. In relation to the Triennale in post-earthquake Kathmandu where many things are still fragile and in some cases uncertain and not evident, the artists and the art works need this elastic capacity to answer to the place in which he or she is coming into.

 

So in terms of curating this exhibition, is it more about taking what the artists are doing in terms of that elasticity within their art or are you trying to create a space where those conversations could open up? How do you approach this part of the curation, is it spatial or art based?

Everything starts with the place of course, but you have to feel the necessity. If there is no necessity to do an exhibition then it is better not to do an exhibition. When I came to Nepal in November 2015 to teach a 10-day workshop, I had a fantastic exchange of dialogue with the people whom I was teaching. I fell in love with the city and this idea of doing the Triennale came around from there.

Given how busy I already am, I would not have accepted the proposal to do the Triennale if I did not sense a necessity. For me, necessity should be at the core of every activity. Of course what is necessary for me is not necessary for another person. And in terms of art and culture, there can be a lot of disagreements about necessity. Most politicians, in any country in the world, will not see art and culture as a necessary tool in society. But I have this belief – it might be a romantic one – that art is as valid for society as is a butcher, supermarket, religion and law.

… because an artist thinks, proceeds with and processes images and things as a means to connect the past, present and future. Almost no one else does this.

Art is a means for healing. Through an intangible and nonfunctional way, art can have a therapeutic effect on society. Of course this is not measurable, like how a certain medical treatment can lead to a decline in mortality. On the contrary, art is neither quantifiable nor does it have a direct function. Art holds up an extreme mirror to society. It is the best way to get a critical view of ourselves, our society and the world we live in and there is no better person to do this than an artist – not a journalist or scientist – because an artist thinks, proceeds with and processes images and things as a means to connect the past, present and future. Almost no one else does this.

 

Going back to the idea of curation and this idea of the artist, the Triennale isn’t just happening in one location, it is happening in multiple locations around the city – Patan Museum, Nepal Art Council, Siddhartha Art Gallery, Taragaon Museum – how do you approach the curatorial work itself?

Keep in mind that this is one exhibition happening in four different locations. The Kathmandu Triennale is one exhibition that is interconnected across these spaces. Each of the locations represent four different typologies of spaces. For instance, the Nepali Art Council has long been used for art practices, the Patan Museum reflects a certain part and layer of Nepali history and society, the Taragaon Museum was built to be a hotel by an Austrian architect and is a Western space, while the Siddhartha Art Gallery is a logical place for art.

Each of our locations is being used in a different way and the artists in them are being presented in a different way. In the Art Council, the artworks will interact with each other whereas in the Taragaon Museum you will have separate exhibitions in the individual units you find there. The kind of artist we present in the different places is determined by its architectural gifts. The four locations are of the same importance, but we try to answer to the space with respect to the context and the origin of the place.

The title of the exhibition, as you know, is “The City, My Studio / The City, My Life”. This reflects the notion of the city as a kind of primordial place where life takes place, a source of inspiration, a working ground and context for the art itself. The Triennale is also not just the presentation of the art works but also the conversations, meetings and the sharing of ideas. The art work is just the first step to build collaborations and partnerships.

The Triennale is like a pumping system to show the potential of the arts in other industries in the city. This is why we have invested a lot into our outreach to work with schools and children to give the exhibition as many anchors as possible. We want to show that there is a necessity to continue this and that there should be a second one in 2020. This exhibition is a part of Kathmandu. I am not a person who is here to do my thing and then leave, I bring my experience of close to 20 years in different places and locations but it is the city that is doing the exhibition.

 

What do you think makes the Kathmandu Triennale necessary at this point of time?

I met many Nepali artists – I think around 60 to 70 – from different generations. I have tremendous respect for the engagement with which they work. There were a number of artists who responded to the earthquake by taking art along with basic necessities. These artists took a stance. They said that they too could contribute and address the tragedy by helping people and softening the trauma people went through. You may believe in it or not, but it is a very courageous position for artists to take. The generosity of the artists in Nepal is in taking on cultural responsibility. They go beyond their own need to create their art works and take a position in society.

… the generosity of the artists in Nepal is in taking on cultural responsibility. They go beyond their own need to create their art works and take a position in society.

Another remarkable thing in Nepal is this remarkable continuum of the traditional arts. The tradition is very present while at the other end of the spectrum are contemporary artists and artists who think they are contemporary but are maybe more traditional than traditional artists. It’s fantastic to see so many art practices existing at the same time. However, I see there is a lack of a person – going back to the idea of a curator – who mediates between the artist and their art work. Someone to make their work more precise and help the artist formulate his or her work more precisely and accurately while thinking better about the form and content of the art work. If it is not in the sense of taking care, I have a very ambivalent relationship with the notion of a curator. I hope that the Triennale will show what the role of the curator can be and how meaningful it can be.

 

In terms of the artist taking a stance in society, would you be able to curate an exhibition with artists whose ethical stance or ethos you do not agree with?

I wouldn’t be able to, of course not, but I can understand that the artist is the only person in society who is able to deal with ethical questions in a different way. The rest of us have to work within the parameters of social compromise, whereas the artist is the only one who can stand outside this logic and take on another ethical position: but he or she also has to bear the consequences of it. But I would never collaborate or deal with an artist whose ethical position I would not be able to embrace.

Let me be clear about this – this does not mean I will not engage with artists with whom I disagree, there are after all plenty of positions. Even in this exhibition, there are artists with whom I do not agree 100%, but I still respect them. You do need something in common, even if it is a broad cultural sense and belief in the validation of art for society. In contrast, I would never deal with an artist who promotes ideas of racism, inequality and discrimination or takes a position against humanity.

 

Sticking with the politics that is associated with the arts, and the “city” that is central to the Triennale’s theme. Cities are places of both diversity and inequality: how do you balance the engagement with the city and make it accessible?

All spaces are spaces of inequality, not only the city, like the school system, the medical system. Unfortunately, inequality is one of the most difficult things to get rid of in the world. In Nepal, the caste system is not officially validated, but you will still see it play out for many generations. In my country, as well, various forms of inequality are present. I believe we have to try to have people participate in the Triennale to multiply the moments of contact between artists and viewers. This is why we emphasise our outreach to

… I believe we have to try to have people participate in the Triennale to multiply the moments of contact between artists and viewers.

schools, kids and young people. Most international artists are coming here to have an exchange with Nepali artists. We will be doing workshops, masterclasses, portfolio reviews – I want the artists to come to Nepal not just to enjoy themselves but to work, work, work and share their knowledge and point of views. I should also emphasise that the exhibition is a tool for information and communication. The Triennale is a catalyst. I hope it can add to fighting indifference, inspiring youth and encouraging the next generation to contribute to the future of this country.

 

How do you curate the outreach? Do you design the exhibition and then build the outreach or is outreach part of the exhibition design itself?

At the core of everything is the artist and the art, always. That is the starting point. But, of course, you do not think linearly. You don’t think, first comes the artist and then comes the second thing and then the third thing. You take it all together. So, from the beginning, we said our outreach is important. In each of the four locations, we will have outreach units. Also, the whole process of reaching out to schools and young people has already started and has been happening for months already. You cannot separate it, you have to think of it as a whole. But, we must acknowledge that we can do these things thanks to the artists and the art works.

… the Triennale is a catalyst. I hope it can add to fighting indifference, inspiring youth and encouraging the next generation to contribute to the future of this country.

What happens after the exhibition? Will there be any publications?

The exhibition only lasts two weeks. During this time, the focus is very strongly on things happening in Kathmandu and Nepal even though there will be plenty of guests visiting. We will be making a catalogue for the Triennale by the end of this year to give us time to prepare it well. We will include shots of all the exhibits and will include some critical texts on the exhibition. This catalogue will be the only thing left over from the exhibition, the only tangible thing that will remain. Most art works are temporary and this will be the only record of everything. For me, this catalogue will be a very important tool and will be a means to provide knowledge and information about the exhibition worldwide. We will also use it to prepare for the next Triennale in 2020.

The Kathmandu Triennale will be held in various locations around Kathmandu from March 24, 2016 to April 9, 2017. For further information, please visit: www.kt.artmandu.org.  

Source: LaLIt Magazine

 

 

KATHMANDU TRIENNALE 2017: introducing Ashmina Ranjit

KATHMANDU TRIENNALE 2017: introducing Ashmina Ranjit

Please enjoy the KT 2017*** video presenting one of the participating artists, Ashmina Ranjit, and her work:

 

Artist Statement

My art is rooted in my need to revisit Asian Traditional Culture from a woman’s perspective. Community, its essence and its power are the force that drives me to create. For me, love, social justice, equality freedom and our rights as human beings, living in our societies, our countries, and the world at large are the most important aspect of life. I create paintings, drawings, videos, sound pieces, installations and performances about the socio-political issues with a strong focus on female identity. My work questions female cultural role, social gendering, and physical experiences and sexuality while reclaiming women’s experiences and giving voice to their political concerns and their most intimate expressions of desire, joy and fulfillment. I work on both individual projects and in collaboration with other artists. I also invite the general audience to participate. Social injustice, human violation, and the on going violence in my country Nepal and around the world are critical in my work. In my performances and installation works, participants are invited to express themselves, raise issues of mutual concern and increase awareness of the topic that are addressed.”

 

Biography

Ashmina Ranjit is an interdisciplinary “artivist” who works internationally on themes related to cultural roles, social gendering, sexuality, human rights and other ever-pressing socio-political issues. She has performed and executed various projects in USA, Europe, Australia and Asia.

 

Association

Lasanaa is an artivist organization that begun in 2007. Their main agenda is social reform through art. They seek to have the Nepali art community be more involved with social issues. They believe in bringing people together to allow learning through exchange, social reforms through art and artivisim.

More: http://kt.artmandu.org/curator/ashmina-ranjit/

 

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Kathmandu Triennale 2017 – The City

Kathmandu Triennale is Nepal’s premier platform for global contemporary arts. It is the latest iteration of the pioneering Kathmandu International Art Festival (KIAF 2009, 2012). Like the precursory Festivals, the Triennale thematically engages particular social issues while advancing a nuanced approach to promote the pedagogical potential of the arts. Through the Triennale, organizer Siddhartha Arts Foundation (SAF) presents multiple perspectives on edition themes – to educate audiences and engage society in critical dialogue. Kathmandu Triennale’s inaugural edition (KT 2017) will be dedicated to the theme of The City and is curated by Philippe Van Cauteren, Belgium while associated museum S.M.A.K an organizing partner of the event. KT 2017 opens on 24 March, 2017.

Official website: http://kt.artmandu.org/

KTM TRIENNALE 2017: introducing Sujan Chitrakar

KTM TRIENNALE 2017: introducing Sujan Chitrakar

Please enjoy the KT 2017*** video presenting one of the participating artists, Sujan Chritrakar, and his work:

Biography

Sujan Chitrakar (b. 1974) is a Kathmandu based visual artist. He is an assistant professor and the Head of Center for Art and Design at Kathmandu University. He is also a recipient of the Fulbright Senior Scholar award 2013-14 for an artistic research project at the mural arts program of Philadelphia. He facilitated the Kathmandu International Art Festival – Earth | Body | Mind in 2012 as a creative and logistic consultant and also co-curated its first edition – Separating myths from the reality in 2009. He has several participations in international group exhibitions that include his representation for Nepal at Fukuoka Triennale 2005 and Colombo Art Biennale 2011. His solos include Utopian introspection! -random expressions within defined periphery, 2004, Masticated faces, 2004 and Let’s talk about art, baby!, 2010-11. He is one of the founding members of Sutra Nepal, an artist-led group pro-active during 2003-08.

 

More: http://kt.artmandu.org/artist/sujan-chitrakar/

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Kathmandu Triennale 2017 – The City

Kathmandu Triennale is Nepal’s premier platform for global contemporary arts. It is the latest iteration of the pioneering Kathmandu International Art Festival (KIAF 2009, 2012). Like the precursory Festivals, the Triennale thematically engages particular social issues while advancing a nuanced approach to promote the pedagogical potential of the arts. Through the Triennale, organizer Siddhartha Arts Foundation (SAF) presents multiple perspectives on edition themes – to educate audiences and engage society in critical dialogue. Kathmandu Triennale’s inaugural edition (KT 2017) will be dedicated to the theme of The City and is curated by Philippe Van Cauteren, Belgium while associated museum S.M.A.K an organizing partner of the event. KT 2017 opens on 24 March, 2017.

See the official website: http://kt.artmandu.org/

KTM TRIENNALE 2017: presenting Jupiter Pradhan

KTM TRIENNALE 2017: presenting Jupiter Pradhan

Please enjoy the KT 2017*** video presenting one of the participating artists, Jupiter Pradhan, and his work:

Artist’s Statement

“Art has a great amount of gravity, which is constantly satisfying. Art and its utility is slowly growing into an absolute understanding of reality. And when this absolute understanding is attained, perhaps that attainment is what is known as enlightenment. In search of satisfaction, art has taken me closer to the elements of society. This is how I can touch, play & speak with society, delve deep inside it. This is how I relate myself to my surroundings. Streams of experiences and expressions begin to flow from within me. This is when art becomes a medium to me.”

Biography

Jupiter Pradhan, holds a BFA in painting from the Tribhuvan University (2005) and an MFA in painting from the University of Development Alternative, Dhaka, Bangladesh (2009). Pradhan is a multi-media artist whose artistic expression includes performance, video, painting and craft. He has had solo exhibitions in Kathmandu and the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan. Pradhan’s works have also been included in several group exhibitions in Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Japan. Art residencies have taken him to Japan, South Korea and Indonesia. Pradhan, who is an active curator and art event organizer, was also an exhibiting artist in the 2nd Kathmandu International Art Festival 2012.

 

More: http://kt.artmandu.org/artist/jupiter-pradhan/

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Kathmandu Triennale 2017 – The City

Kathmandu Triennale is Nepal’s premier platform for global contemporary arts. It is the latest iteration of the pioneering Kathmandu International Art Festival (KIAF 2009, 2012). Like the precursory Festivals, the Triennale thematically engages particular social issues while advancing a nuanced approach to promote the pedagogical potential of the arts. Through the Triennale, organizer Siddhartha Arts Foundation (SAF) presents multiple perspectives on edition themes – to educate audiences and engage society in critical dialogue. Kathmandu Triennale’s inaugural edition (KT 2017) will be dedicated to the theme of The City and is curated by Philippe Van Cauteren, Belgium while associated museum S.M.A.K an organizing partner of the event. KT 2017 opens on 24 March, 2017.

See the official website: http://kt.artmandu.org/

Aditya Aryal: opening at TINGS LOUNGE HOTEL

Aditya Aryal: opening at TINGS LOUNGE HOTEL

Friday, 10th March 2017 is the opening of the long-awaited next exhibition at my very favourite hotel in KTM. My friends Thomas & Anette TIngstrup are back in town and, together with their great team, busy with the preparations of Bardo by Aditya Aryal”. 5 years ago was their first art exhibition with Nepalese Art – the group show NoNameNoThemeJustArt with works by the most talented young artists they found at the time.

Friday March 10th Kathmandu gets a chance to see Aditya’s new works. As always the opening is a celebration – of art, creativity, humanity and love. Like in all other Art @ Tings celebrations it will be an evening with snacks, music, art lovers and drinks from their friends at Gorkha Brewery

 

Thomas Tingstrup: “It has been fantastic to follow the artists from that show. To see their progress here in Kathmandu, to show their works at Tings and to see how their art conquer the world. We even have the privilege to be able to help some of the artists getting their art exposed outside Nepal.”

Why Aditya?

Thomas Tingstrup: “Aditya Aryal is not only the first Nepalese artist we met back 2011. His works are among the first (of many) we bought and he is the first artist we managed to get to Europe. Not because he comes from a developing country but because he is as talented as his contemporary colleagues in other countries.In 2015 he was one of the 10 artists from all over the world invited to 5th Viborg International Billboard Painting Festival in Denmark – an event he almost missed because of the EQ, but managed to overcome with flexibility and help from the involved embassies, the galleries and our friends.”

Earlier photo of Thomas and Aditya, conversing in the streets of Kathmandu

What is special about the new exhibit?

Thomas Tingstrup: “With Bardo Aditya re-interprets the Buddhist concept of the transitional state between two lives on earth as a time-related idea of letting go and a spiritual connection to one’s mind. In his Bardo paintings Aditya Aryal is questioning not only his position in relation to those essential binaries, but also the constellations of contemporary Nepali society. Through a connective web of Tibetan imagery and references to Thanka traditioncombined with Western influences in technique and composition, the artist contributes an alternate vision of reality represented in his idea of Bardo.

Aditya: the artist at work

What is new about Aditya?

Thomas Tingstrup: “In june 2017 Aditya will return to Europe for the 3rd time. In contrast to his chaotic first appearance on the European art scene, this time Aditya is prepared.He will bring his Bardo collection of the brand new art works he has been creating since his return from his 2nd European visit in 2016.

The works are impressing – they show an artist that has grown and matured personally as well as technically. They show an artist with reflexions and visions. And they show an artist who is ready to take over the world and dig deeper in his local culture at the same time. We’re proud to present Bardo by Aditya Aryal

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For more info on TINGS LOUNGE HOTEL:
My absolute favourite hotel: TINGS, a jewel just off Lazimpat Road:

For more info on Aditya:
Aditya Aryal

For more info on earlier exhibits at TINGS:
Sneha Shrestha graffiti art exhibit opens at TINGS HOTEL!
Now at TINGS: fabulous small frog sculptures of MZN Shrawan

 

KTM TRIENNALE 2017: presenting Manish Lal Shrestha

KTM TRIENNALE 2017: presenting Manish Lal Shrestha

Please enjoy the KT 2017*** video presenting one of the participating artists, Manish Lal Shrestha, and his work:

 

Manish  is a multidimensional visual artist, who has had 13 solo exhibitions, several workshops and residencies internationally in Switzerland, France, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, USA and Nepal. He has several awards to his name including the National Fine Arts award (2011), from Nepal Academy of Fine Arts. He is Founder/Executive Director of Gallery Mcube, Nepal. He is also a visiting faculty at the Srijana College of Fine Arts, Nepal.  Shrestha is an alum of the JJ School of Arts in Mumbai, India.

 

More: http://kt.artmandu.org/artist/manish-lal-shrestha/

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Kathmandu Triennale 2017 – The City

Kathmandu Triennale is Nepal’s premier platform for global contemporary arts. It is the latest iteration of the pioneering Kathmandu International Art Festival (KIAF 2009, 2012). Like the precursory Festivals, the Triennale thematically engages particular social issues while advancing a nuanced approach to promote the pedagogical potential of the arts. Through the Triennale, organizer Siddhartha Arts Foundation (SAF) presents multiple perspectives on edition themes – to educate audiences and engage society in critical dialogue. Kathmandu Triennale’s inaugural edition (KT 2017) will be dedicated to the theme of The City and is curated by Philippe Van Cauteren, Belgium while associated museum S.M.A.K an organizing partner of the event. KT 2017 opens on 24 March, 2017.

KTM TRIENNALE 2017: presenting Bidhata KC

KTM TRIENNALE 2017: presenting Bidhata KC

Please enjoy the KT 2017*** video presenting one of the participating artists, Bidhata KC, and her work:

 

Bidhata KC received her MFA from Tribhuvan University, Nepal. She has taken part in various group exhibitions and projects in Nepal and internationally. KC has had showed her works in 7 solo exhibitions till date. In 2013 she was awarded with ‘Master Tej Bahadur Chitrakar Smriti Puraskar’ for the Best Painting/Artist award and in 2011 her painting was honored with a ‘Special Mention Award’ in the National Fine Art Exhibition. Likewise, she was honored by ‘Arniko National Youth Art Award’, a National Government Award for excellence in Modern Art.

Bidhata has always been curious about her surroundings and draws inspiration from nature. She travels widely in order to gather inspiration. Her choice of medium range from painting and printmaking to installations and multimedia.

More: http://kt.artmandu.org/artist/bidhata-kc/

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Kathmandu Triennale 2017 – The City

Kathmandu Triennale is Nepal’s premier platform for global contemporary arts. It is the latest iteration of the pioneering Kathmandu International Art Festival (KIAF 2009, 2012). Like the precursory Festivals, the Triennale thematically engages particular social issues while advancing a nuanced approach to promote the pedagogical potential of the arts. Through the Triennale, organizer Siddhartha Arts Foundation (SAF) presents multiple perspectives on edition themes – to educate audiences and engage society in critical dialogue. Kathmandu Triennale’s inaugural edition (KT 2017) will be dedicated to the theme of The City and is curated by Philippe Van Cauteren, Belgium while associated museum S.M.A.K an organizing partner of the event. KT 2017 opens on 24 March, 2017.

Meet Philippe Van Cauteren, curator of KATHMANDU TRIENNALE 2017

Meet Philippe Van Cauteren, curator of KATHMANDU TRIENNALE 2017

Please enjoy this fine interview, reposted from EnglishOnlineKhabar, which lets us meet the curator of KT 2017 and learn more about his professional upbringing in Belgium and his work for and with contemporary art of Nepal.

 

“Kathmandu Triennale is my tribute to the city and the artist: Philippe Van Cauteren”

By Devendra Gautam, published Friday, February 17th, 2017 12:29 PM

 

Philippe Van Cauteren is the curator of Kathmandu Triennale (2017), a non-commercial, art initiative of Siddhartha Arts Foundation, which aims to promote Nepali arts and culture.

Devendra Gautam caught up with Cauteren, artistic director of Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst in Ghent, Belgium, to talk about his journey as a curator, the Nepali and global artscape, the mega quake, Guernica, expectations from the event and the emergence of Nepal as an international arts hub. Excerpts from the interview.

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First of all, I would like to know about your journey as a curator. How did it begin?

It’s a long journey. It’s not 200 years old, but it’s a long journey (laughs).

 

It has been smooth all along?

It’s never smooth. It should not be smooth. Well, it goes back to when I was a young boy; 8-9 years old.

I went to visit the museum of fine arts in Antwerp in Belgium with my parents. I was a small boy and it was a huge building. I visited it and saw artworks from the 13th, 14th, 15th, 17th, 19th and 20th centuries. Of course, I did not know what I saw. I did not know if it was art or whatever it was. But seeing it, I was deeply impressed.

I saw things realistically painted like flowers painted as real as real flowers. Then I saw other things — of fingers being deformed with hands three times as big as in reality, so on and so forth. I did not know what was happening to me. But one thing I knew. While leaving the building, I said to my father: That’s what I want to do with my life. That’s it.

Apparently, there are people, who dedicate their life making paintings and sculptors. This had an incredible impact on me. By using colour and form and lines and certain way of painting things, you could communicate something, you could speak to someone, you could touch someone, you could open someone’s mind, you could give some ideas to the person, without using language, without speaking. By making images, you could do that.

So, to make the long journey a bit shorter, then I started to paint myself as a young boy. My parents were not very happy with that. They were thinking: Oh no! He will become an artist!

 

Did it have something to do with financial insecurity?

Maybe. It is like a life you don’t know whether will work or not. It was in the mid-70’s. Being an artist was not valued back then. You were more like an outsider if you wanted to become an artist. Then I told myself: Ok, when I cannot become an artist, maybe I have to become someone who can help artists. I had never heard of the word ‘curator’ till then but I had heard of the word ‘artistry’. So, I wanted to study artistry at the university in Ghent.

Again, my parents did not allow me because they thought that with artistry, I will never find a job in the world. Artists in Belgium were unemployed. They were doing something else, working in banks, doing other things. But as I am a bit stubborn, I studied artistry.

While I was studying, I called the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Ghent, the city where I am living. I called the director to say: Listen, I heard you are in trouble. And I asked: Do you need help? The next day, he said I could start working in the museum. Man, this is incredible! I felt. Suddenly, I can be really close to the artwork, I thought. It was contemporary art.

When you are 16, you don’t necessarily understand what you see. But I was always convinced of one thing: If someone makes something as an artist, you have to trust the person. Even if what the artist does looks very simple, looks very easy to do, you know, there’s a reason he or she does it. There’s a kind of motivation behind it.

I was always defending contemporary artists to friends, who had a more classical understanding and taste of arts. Then I started to work in the museum, but not as a curator, not as an art historian. I started working in the museum as a carpenter, as a guard, as a cleaning man and as a librarian.

Only gradually, I had the occasion to host the first exhibition. It was with Marina Abramovich. She is 70 years old now. She can be called the godmother of performance art. She can be called one of the top 10 or 20 most important artists in the world. She is from former Yugoslavia, now living in New York. And as a young guy (25-26 years old), I had to make an exhibition with her with her monuments. This was my first practice as a curator.

But I always had a kind of double feeling with the idea of curating. As you might now, the word ‘curator’ comes from the word ‘curare’ in Latin. And ‘curare’ means to ‘care for’, which means to help, to give feedback, to give support to artists. Often, too often, you know, curating is misunderstood and is not anymore about helping or supporting artists.

In my practice, I try to focus on the artists more than on anything else because I have extremely big respect for artists. It does not mean that I like all the artists. But I understand and I have respect for what artists do, for the fragility with which they try to create artworks. By showing their works, they are taking a risk. An artwork is something through which you show your own identity and your own being as a matter of speaking.

 

You were talking about respecting art and the artist. How is the situation of artistic freedom in our country and other parts of the world? Isn’t it in jeopardy?

Artistic freedom does not mean that you can do anything you want.

 

You mean it has boundaries, like any other freedom?

I think if you are a good artist and a smart artist and a sensible artist, then you have an understanding and respect for the context in which you work and live. And I think every artist takes a political position just by being an artist, even if it’s not manifested in his present work. Because by being an artist, he takes another position in society than a lawyer, or than a butcher, or than a metal worker or a farmer.

 

I understand and I have respect for what artists do, for the fragility with which they try to create artworks. By showing their works, they are taking a risk.

But I know what you’re saying. Some artists are criticising with their work, or using their work or using their position as an artist to criticise some socially or politically or culturally complex and critical situations in a country. There are plenty of examples of artworks or of artists who have been censored, whose works have not been realised. Artists have been jailed because of the fact that they took a position. And I think we have to defend the right, the position that the artists take.

 

How do you find the art scene in Nepal?

An artist from Argentina is informed by his social and cultural contexts. An artist from Nepal is informed by his social and cultural backgrounds. Ditto with artists from other countries like Thailand. I have big respect for artists in Nepal.

We should not use the invention of borders as a mechanism to define art or the position of art. But I have a big respect for artists from Nepal. Clearly, it is more difficult to be an artist here than it is in Belgium, Denmark and England. May be only three per cent of artists can live from their work in Belgium and are successful. Other artists have still have to do plenty of other jobs to make their living. Still, art is a fragile job when you take it seriously unlike when you take art as some form of decoration which will sell. If you are a dedicated, motivated artist, then art is fragile, not easy.

Of course, I understand the complexity of being an artist in a country like Nepal. But I strongly believe that the society is in a kind of flux, in a kind of change. It is facing many questions at different levels. This is also a kind of fertile ground for the artists. Artists should be more courageous. They should not hide behind their paintings.

 

We had a decade-long insurgency. Then the earthquake occurred. I have read that Picasso’s Guernica is based on the Spanish civil war. In Nepal, despite the war, despite the quake, we have not been able to create any classics. Why?

I think I have a clear answer: Art is still too much seen as a form of decoration, more than a language. Many works of art I see — I say this with respect for every artist, who don’t understand me — have a very decorative quality. They take elements from the tradition, from religion but they don’t transform it into something else. They just copy what they see.

 

Before Picasso, there were artists, who used to paint what they saw. They were trying to catch the lights, they were not communicating something. Later, Picasso said: As an artist, I take the responsibility to address the tragedy happening in the city of Guernica.

I think a big part (in the creation of classics) has something to do with art education.

 

Historically, Nepal was prosperous when its two giants India and China were formidable powers. We used that prosperity to build heritages like temples and palaces. But the art suffered after the two giants’ powers dwindled. Now, China and India are rising again as superpowers. In this context, do you see art flourishing in Nepal again?

We have to embrace the past to build the future. We don’t need to be nostalgic about the past. This will bring nothing. We have to see how we can face the future. I would not be here if I did not see the potential of Nepal and the city (Kathmandu) in the arts. We have a big group of artists who take the kind of social position they do.

After the quake, some artists went to the city of Bhaktapur to help out quake victims. Here, in this country, there are artists with energy and dynamism, which is unique. I have worked in plenty of countries, but this is unique to me.

Nepal is like a butterfly. It is like Belgium of Southeast Asia. You know, Belgium is located between giants like Germany and France. Belgium has a very strong artistic tradition. Artists should be self-critical. They should not see themselves as someone, who makes products.

Thanks to the triennale, more than 60 artists from 25 countries are coming to Kathmandu. There are artists, who are collaborating with UNCHR, with orphanages, and artists who reflect on the heritages. This is of incredible importance. This gives us an opportunity to tap the potential of artists. These artists are available for meetings with the people of Kathmandu. Kathmandu has all the potentials required to be an art hub. Here, you have the sense of the traditional and the contemporary.

There’s big interest, big fascination about the triennale, about what’s happening in Kathmandu. I hope once it (the exhibition) begins from March 24, politicians and policymakers of the country can understand how important an exhibition like this can have on the quality of life in the city of Kathmandu.

While I know that every developing country has other issues at stake but this exhibition gives us a unique opportunity to inspire people through art. Everything starts with the people.

 

Global politics is changing. Donald Trump has risen, then there’s Brexit and developed countries are looking inward. What impact these developments will have on the artscape?

I am not a fortune-teller. I can’t predict what will happen to the arts in the future.

But as Europeans, we have to be very sensible and very open. I think the reactions happening in Europe — to close the borders, to look inside, France is for the French — are very stupid. I think now is the moment not to protect the borders but to protect our values. And the values are tolerance and justice. The values that came from the French revolution have to do with a sense of humanity, not with making barriers between each other.

 

Now is the moment not to protect the borders but to protect our values.

So, we are living in very difficult moments. The transformation that is going to happen will be huge on the political level. I think within 10 years, we will live in another world. Recently, I was in Avril, Iraq, close to the fighting zone of Mosul. I was with the former prime minister of Kurdistan. We were watching the inauguration of Donald Trump. He was saying to me: Listen, we are watching something of which the effect will be immeasurable for everyone in the world. How it will be, I don’t know.

 

Kathmandu is a rapidly urbanising city. In the developing world, it is one of the most rapidly urbanising cities. Will this rapid urbanisation have an impact on the traditional art scene?

It will. But I hope traditional art can still survive. Let’s hope people continue to have respect for the traditional art. Let’s hope they are preserved not only by the museum but also by the people. At the Patan Museum, I saw people sculpting on the wooden bars. They were rebuilding a temple. This is fantastic.

This is a tradition that you hand over from one generation to the other. Of course, in the process of urbanisation, you get something but you lose also. It’s like a pendulum, going back and forth. I think the tradition is important if it feeds the future, if it forms the future, not if it is something which stops change.

 

Your expectations from Kathmandu Triennale 2017?

This exhibition will bring the best artists of the world to Kathmandu. People here and artists can benefit from it. I have a lot of expectations from the triennale. Thanks to the exhibition, Kathmandu can get international attention, which is not only through negative things like the earthquake but also through articulation of the cultural values of Kathmandu. That’s one thing.

Secondly, we hope that Nepali artists really benefit from the exhibition, that something good will come out for the future. That’s another thing I hope. Thanks to the exhibition, people can discover Kathmandu in a different way. Between all the dust and construction sites, they can see the beauty of this place, which is, according to me, enormous. That’s why the title of the exhibition is ‘The City, My Studio / The City, My Life’.

I hope people support this endeavour, hope people understand how art can contribute to the social texture of a city, even in difficult situations. Art can contribute to society.

For me, the exhibition is a tribute to the city and the tribute to the artist.

(Kathmandu Triennale 2017 will be held from March 24 – April 9, 2017.) SOURCE: http://english.onlinekhabar.com/2017/02/17/395990

—-> see more on KATHMANDU TRIENNALE here:
http://www.nepalnow.blog/ktm-triennale-2017-presenting-kiran-maharjan/
http://www.nepalnow.blog/ktm-triennale-2017-artist-video-saurganga/
http://www.nepalnow.blog/finally-new-kiaf-kathmandu-intl-art-festival-2017/

 

 

Erina Tamrakar Single Exhibit at Park Gallery

Erina Tamrakar Single Exhibit at Park Gallery

Fabulous great canvasses of her inimitable women all over Park Gallery: this 2017 single exhibit of renowned artist Erina Tamrakar is a visual show-stopper, vibrant with color and form.

Reposting an article from NEPALI TIMES we want to congratulate our longtime friend with her wonderful success. Enjoy images and text and whoever hasn’t been to the exhibit should definitely go.

Photos: Erina Tamrakar, Photo Collage: Beata Wiggen

Erina Tamrakar returns


(From NEPALI TIMES Monday, February 13th, 2017)

Artist Erina Tamrakar’s exhibition In Between the Third Eye opens out the world of women, their feelings and emotions to Kathmandu visitors exposed to the daily grind of a squalid urban life.

Painted in hues of vibrant reds, blues, greens, the audience is compelled to connect with Tamrakar at two levels: sensual portraits that dazzle us and at the same time force us to think deeply about female empowerment and awareness.

“When I paint, I don’t paint with a concept beforehand,” said Tamrakar, who has returned to the exhibition circuit after two years.  “It’s like the canvas and I have a conversation. I create as I paint.”

The exhibition contain her works from 2010 right up to some recent paintings, including some from the popular series Third Eye and Mustang which are inspired by her travels (pic, below).

On entering the Park Gallery, the visitor confronts the canvas titled ‘Third Eye’ (pic, top) which is washed in red, and depicts a group of women with their eyes closed, but on each of their forehead the artist has painted the third eye.

“When we have to introspect, we close our eyes,” said Tamrakar for whom the third eye stands for awareness, the ability to know right from wrong. Disheartened by the growing number of cases reported for violence against women, the artist aims to inform her public about the importance of empowering women.

As in her previous works, none of the subjects directly look at the viewer. For Tamrakar, it is her way of making the audience engage with the emotions of her subjects rather than establishing direct contact.

The entire two floor of Park Gallery is filled with Tamrakar’s work, each carries its own message. In some women are on an equal footing with nature, in others the emotions of women are captured in a single artwork.

Fotos: Erina Tamrakar, Photo Collage: Beata Wiggen

 

Tamrakar’s recent works also use monochromes, which portray an evolving society: paintings of women alongside safa tempos that they drive (pic, below). “It’s a step forward for the society,” said the artist. She believes it is only with financial independence that women can fully be independent. (Pics: Smriti Basnet)

Source:http://www.nepalitimes.com/blogs/thebrief/2017/02/13/erina-tamrakar-returns/

KTM TRIENNALE 2017: presenting Kiran Maharjan

KTM TRIENNALE 2017: presenting Kiran Maharjan

Please enjoy this wonderful video presenting one of the participating artists, Kiran Maharjan, and his work:

 

Kiran Maharjan is a street artist whose works depict images painted realistically with spray, paint which have elements of calligraphy. His work revolves around the dual nature of man and of the artist himself. Maharjan completed his BFA degree from Kathmandu University centre for Art and Design in 2014. He has exhibited his work in galleries like Siddhartha Art Gallery, Nepal Art Council and in various other alternative venues like Alliance Francaise de Katmandou and Tings Tea Lounge. He is currently involved in the street art project called Prasad and also conducts various street art workshops in and around the capital. His work can be seen nationally in the streets of Kupondole, Thamel, Pokhara, Birgunj, and Internationally in Denmark and Finland.

 

 

 

 

Looking back at great success at IAF 2017

Looking back at great success at IAF 2017

… even in the NEW YORK TIMES the successful participation of six Nepali artists at IAF 2017 was mentioned:

NEW DELHI — It’s no surprise that satirical portraits of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un are the centerpiece of the India Art Fair, the annual feast of visual arts where politics took center stage this year, including groundbreaking projects on migration and rapidly changing urban landscapes in South Asia.

Titled “Peace Owners,” the work of Nepali artist Sunil Sigdel uses Buddhist motifs on the faces of the three global leaders. “Artists are responding to the global political climate,” said Dina Bangdel, curator of Nepal Art Council in New Delhi. “We are also looking at agriculture and perhaps the disintegration of the rural community with urbanization. Artists are speaking in a Nepali voice but in the broader context of South Asia.” Bangdel said the work of her artists reflects both the “fragility and resilience” of a country still recovering from the devastating 2015 earthquake.

The art fair brought hundreds of Indian and international artists, exhibitors and collectors from more than 20 countries. Like the previous editions of the fair that began in 2008, South Asia remains the region in focus. ...” (see: https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2017/02/05/world/asia/ap-as-india-art-fair.html?_r=0)

(collage: Beata Wiggen; all photos: Dina Bangdel)

 

Prof. Dr. Dina Bangdel, who spearheaded the presentation in New Delhi, says: “There were six Nepali contemporary artists whose works were highlighted for Nepal Art Council’s second invited participation for IAF’s Platform series with a regional focus on South Asia — with a focused curatorial intent!

The installation was intense with less than 12 hours to put up a show, not to mention some technical snafus out of our control! Huge congratulations to the artists, whose works were highlighted in over 10+ media coverage. This experience was incredibly valuable and a privilege for me personally as a curator and to the amazing NAC team/supportors — the quick deinstallation is always bittersweet! Thank you to the artists for your participation! Congratulations once again to the artists — one of the most visited booth at the India Art Fair once again this year!”

(For brief information on all participating artists please scroll down to the end of the post)

 

(collage: Beata Wiggen; all photos: Dina Bangdel)

 

 

Participating artists IAF 2017:

Anil Shahi

Anil Shahi is currently pursuing his MFA at Tribhuvan University. In 2011 and 2012 he took part in NAFA’s National Art Exhibitions. He has exhibited with his peers from KU at the Nepal Art Council and participated in the Kalajatra exhibition. He is the recipient of the Australian Himalayan Foundation Art Award and held a solo exhibition at Siddhartha Art Gallery in 2014.

SEE ALSO:  http://www.nepalnow.net/artblog/anil-shahi-exposition-at-siddhartha-art-gallery

 

Koshal Hamal

Koshal Hamal’s (b.1988, Nepal) works are engaged in a synthesis of appropriation. Hamal received his BFA (with a distinction award) from Beaconhouse National University, Lahore (2011) on a UNESCO Madanjeet Art Scholarship. His work received one of the best awards for young artists by Lahore Art Council in 2012. His works have been included in several South Asian art exhibitions nationally and internationally including New Selections: South Asia, Thomas Erben Gallery, New York (2012) and South Asian Artists: Imagining Our Future Together, a travel show organized by the World Bank, Art Program (2012-13). Hamal is currently doing his Masters in Fine Arts at Beaconhouse National University, Lahore, Pakistan.

SEE ALSO:  http://www.kathmanduarts.org/Kathmandu_Arts/K15-hamal.html

 

Kabi Raj Lama

Kabi Raj Lama completed his BFA from Kathmandu University’s Center for Art and Design in 2009. He was a research student of Meisei University, Japan, where he also served as a Teaching Assistant in Printmaking. He has participated in numerous exhibitions nationally and internationally and has had a solo show at the Hotel D’Annapurna.

SEE ALSO:   http://www.theartofencouraging.com/kabi-raj-lama-solo-show-siddhartha-gallery/

 

Sandhya Silwal

Sandhya Silwal is Lalitpur-based artist. She completed her BFA from Kathmandu University’s Center for Art and Design in 2007. She has two solo exhibitions to her credit and has participated in many workshops and group exhibitions. Sandhya mostly focuses on painting but explores other art forms as well.

SEE ALSO:   http://www.kathmanduarts.org/Kathmandu_Arts/K16-Sandhya_Silwal.html

(photo: Artudio)

Sanjeev Maharjan

Sanjeev Maharjan is a Kathmandu based visual artist. Maharjan’s works are often inspired from his social surroundings, which he represents in the form of drawing,painting, photography, installation and murals. Maharjan was born, raised and studied in Kathmandu.He graduated from the Kathmandu University Center for Art and Design in 2009.

SEE ALSO:   http://www.artsofnepal.com/artist_work/32/sanjeev-maharjan.html

 


Sunil Sigdel

An alum of Nepal Fine Art Campus T.U, Sunil has six solo exhibitions to his credit and has been part of many international residential workshops in countries like the UK, Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan. Sunil was also a part of the 1st and 2nd Kathmandu International Art Festival and the Dhaka Art Summit. Sunil has been the recipient of several awards and recognition for his art, including the Asian Art prize in Hong Kong & Seoul (2012 A.D).

SEE ALSO:   http://sigdelsunil.blogspot.de/

 

IAF 2017 with Nepali artists again!

IAF 2017 with Nepali artists again!

Reposting important news about the participation of Nepali modern artists at this year’s INDIA ART FAIR (IAF2017).

The HImalayan Times featured two articles yesterday and today outlining the success of last year’s participation (“most visited booth”) and the preparations for this year’s delegation representing the modern art of Nepal. Good luck and much success for IAF 2017!

 

 

Nepali artists ready for India Art Fair

Photo courtesy: IAF

 

KATHMANDU: The ninth edition of the India Art Fair (IAF), an annual Indian modern and contemporary art fair and South Asia’s most awaited fair, is scheduled from February 2-5 at the NSIC grounds, Okhla Industrial Area, New Delhi, India.

The IAF is the largest platform to experience contemporary art of South Asia and beyond. The programmes in IAF include lectures, projects, films, curated events, and more. The fair aims for the visitors to get the opportunity to discover the best galleries in the region and beyond.

The IAF acts as a portal to showcase the diverse cultural landscape of the region through the medium of visual art. That includes modern and contemporary installation, paintings, sculptures, et cetera from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries except the Maldives; and then there are representatives from the United States, UAE, Portugal, France, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom, Greece, Austria, Israel and Singapore, among others.

The first edition of IAF took place in 2008. Since 2016, the MCH Group, a leading international group of live-marketing companies, joined Angus Montgomery — an internationally renowned group of exhibition organising companies with offices and events on five continents — and with Neha Kirpal, the Founding Director of IAF, they became the co-owners of IAF.

This year there will be over 70 booths in the exhibition at IAF with focus on South Asia. This year the Nepal Art Council (NAC) is representing Nepal in the IAF and it is the second time that NAC is representing Nepal in this sought-after fair. Six artists — Anil Shahi, Kabiraj Lama, Koshal Hamal, Sandhya Silwal, Sanjeev Maharjan and Sunil Sigdel — have been chosen to represent Nepal at IAF where Art Historian Dr Dina Bangdel, also a board member of NAC, is going to curate the exhibition at IAF.

Talking about the importance of taking part in IAF, Dr Bangdel said, “IAF is a very prestigious fair and we represented Nepal since 2016. The most important thing is that we got selected for IAF and we are proud that we got special invitation to participate in IAF 2017. The selection is very competitive. Moreover, in these years, IAF has moved to being less commercial and in the direction that really showcases the best of the best. The platform series highlights visual art from South Asian countries and Nepal is also included in it.”

The IAF is also a place where  participating artists get promotion. “The IAF is not only about the exhibition, but a place where scholars, art historians, collectors among others come together under same roof. Thus, it is also an important venue where they get to understand and learn about the art scenario,” added Swosti Rajbhandari Kayastha, Curator/ Public Relations at  NAC.

According to Dr Bangdel, art in Nepal was always religious and it was easy to get support as people have religious beliefs and faith, making people always willing to support art. “As for modern and contemporary art, it is even more important — as contemporary art is the truth of the current state that talks about the political, social and economic condition of the country. So, art is not only about beautiful things but through it, artists are making very important critical statements. The IAF is a very prestigious fair renowned around the world as one of the most awaited fairs held in the South Asian region followed by scholars and collectors alike.”

Published on January 31, 2017 on http://thehimalayantimes.com/art-culture/nepali-artists-ready-india-art-fair/

SEE ALSO EARLIER POST: http://www.theartofencouraging.com/nepal-at-iaf2016/
SEE ALSO EARLIER POST: http://www.theartofencouraging.com/dr-dina-bangdel-nepali-art-video/

 

Most Visited Booth: Will Nepal work the magic again at IAF?

Undated photo shows Nepali artists participated in India Art Fair 2016. Photo courtesy: Nepal Art Council

 

It is not easy to be a part of something wonderful. One always has to overcome challenges to achieve something. Likewise, it was a challenge for Nepal Art Council (NAC) to select seven artists — Birendra Pratap Singh, Asha Dangol, Bidhata KC, Sheelasha Rajbhandari, Hit Man Gurung, Samundra Man Shrestha and Manish Harijan to participate in the India Art Fair (IAF) 2016 held at NSIC grounds, Okhla Industrial Area, New Delhi from January 28-31, 2016.

Nepal is participating in the IAF 2017 and the year 2016 was the first time Nepal made her presence felt at the eighth edition of IAF. Talking about the action behind the scenes, art historian/curator Dr Dina Bangdel explained, “Though it seems like it is only the second time being a part of IAF, our preparations have been going on for a long time. We wanted to understand what it takes to do this (be a part of the fair) and we had to convince our patrons about why we should participate in it. Then there are technical aspects such as logistics which we had to understand before participating. It just looks like two years but it has been four years for us to reach this space.”

Dr Bangdel added, “Before taking our artists to IAF, we awarded travel grants to four artists in 2015 to understand IAF and its perspective. Moreover, being at IAF is an opportunity for the artists to network.”

Elaborating on reasons not being able to be at earlier editions of IAF, Sagar SJB Rana, Vice President of NAC elaborated, “Firstly, IAF looks for quality of the institution or gallery representing a country. There should be a good curatorial team that can present artworks, and to book the booth is expensive. It costs Rs 7 lakhs to just rent the booth for four days plus there is additional cost for lighting, logistics, et cetera. Our focus is to present the art of Nepal, commercial success is secondary. But commercial success is important and we need support from the government and patrons alike.”

The artists who received the travel grant were Dangol, Sanjeev Maharjan, Gurung and KC. About the selection of the artists Dr Bangdel said, “In the selection of artists for 2016 we gave importance to diversity in terms of work, career and ethnicity. As a result we have artists from different generations and whose works are different from each other.”

Sharing his experience at the IAF in 2015 Maharjan said, “It was my first time in a commercial art fair. I got to observe the happenings closely which was inspiring. It was like an open museum and I was able to see works of renowned artists in reality.”

For Rajbhandari, who travelled on her own in 2015 and got selected to showcase in IAF 2016, “Paying a visit to the fair, a question raised in me — why isn’t there any exhibit representing Nepal? It made me sad as there were works from many countries. I felt the need of the presence of Nepal. And India is so near to Nepal in terms of distance.” And in 2016 Nepal was represented and received a large number of visitors earning the title of the ‘most visited booth’. Giving credit to the powerful works of selected artists Dr Bangdel shared, “In 2016 we were highlighted due to the powerful works of the artists. There were visitors who were surprised to see Nepali artists’ strong work capable of competing on the international level.”

At the IAF, the artists must be represented by a gallery or institution to get selected for the fair. Sharing her experience at IAF 2016 Rajbhandari added, “It was a very good experience as we were represented by NAC, Nepal’s oldest non-profit organisation working in the field of art. I realised the need of support from the organisation as being affiliated with it helped the artist to get the exposure. We got the chance to network with other artists and were able to start a dialogue about the kind of art being produced in Nepal.”

Another artist KC, who showcased her paintings in 2016 expressed, “I got to learn a lot and participating in the fair boosted my confidence. I am proud that we were appreciated.”

The ninth edition of India Art Fair, an annual Indian modern and contemporary art fair and South Asia’s most awaited fair, is scheduled from February 2-5 at the NSIC grounds, Okhla Industrial Area, New Delhi, India.

Published on February 01, 2017 on http://thehimalayantimes.com/art-culture/visited-booth-will-nepal-work-magic-iaf/

KTM TRIENNALE 2017: presenting Saurganga Darshandhari

KTM TRIENNALE 2017: presenting Saurganga Darshandhari

Please enjoy this wonderful video presenting one of the participating artists, Saurganga Darshandari, and her work:

 

Saurganga Darshandhari is a visual artist and printmaker based in Kathmandu. She received her MFA in printmaking from University of Development Alternative, Dhaka, Bangladesh where she was the recipient of the Best Media Award in 2008. She has shown her artworks in Nepal, Bangladesh, India, South Korea, and Sri Lanka and has participated in artist residencies in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Korea and Japan.

Her solo show “A Printmaker’s Feelings” was held at Kathmandu Contemporary Art Center in 2010. She has taken part in the 2nd Kathmandu International art Festival, and participated in 13th and 15th Asian Art Biennale in Bangladesh, in the 19th Nippon International Performance Art Festival in Tokyo, Nagano, Osaka, in Japan 2013. In 2013, she was awarded by Basanta Women’s Exhibition National Academy of Fine Art and received the Regional Award by the Nepal Academy of Fine Art in 2014. Darshandhari teaches printmaking at Tribhuvan University Lalitkala and Sirjana College of Fine Art. She is a founder-member of Bindu, a space for artists.

Important re-post from KATHMANDU TRIENNALE: Contemporary Art in Nepal 1920-2014

Important re-post from KATHMANDU TRIENNALE: Contemporary Art in Nepal 1920-2014

A brief Review of the Contemporary Art in Nepal (1920-2014)

By Sangeeta Thapa, Siddhartha Arts Foundation for Gallerie International, August 2014

 

Nepal lies neatly at the center of the world’s largest growth region. As a developing country, Nepal is experiencing major political changes while writing its new constitution. It is hoped that the new constitution will defend freedom of speech, as artists have an important role to play in the future of Nepal by raising the consciousness of its citizens. The new government of Nepal must rise to the challenges of its time and work in tandem with private cultural organizations to generate activities that support the younger generation of artists from all ethnic backgrounds, thereby supporting new ideas for social change through the visual and performing arts. However, it is essential that in the quest for modernity, the very essence of Nepali culture is not sacrificed.

Shree Teen Maharaja Chandra Sumsher - Hand Painted Image by Dhirga Man Chitrakar
Shree Teen Maharaja Chandra Sumsher during his Europe trip – Hand Painted Image by Dhirga Man Chitrakar

Historical beginnings

In 1940, the Nepali artist Chandra Man Maskey was imprisoned for drawing cartoons lampooning the Rana rulers. India’s independence in 1947 and the end of the British Raj had huge political ramifications in Nepal. Change was inevitable – politicians, members of various underground political outfits who were imprisoned for their political beliefs, social activists, teachers, lawyers, artists and writers united collectively against the Rana rule and clamoured for change.

Twelve years later, King Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah Dev ended the Rana rule and Nepal finally opened up her borders to the rest of the world. His successor, King Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev, believed that the arts could be used to create a feeling of nationalism under a guided democracy called the Panchayat system, which would take Nepal forward into the 21st century.

Photo Courtesy: Uttam Nepali
Photo Courtesy: Uttam Nepali

A feeling of euphoria and jubilation marked the initial years of the Panchayat system, and between the late 50s and 70s, the Royal Nepal Academy was established to promote art, literature, dance and music; the City Hall was built to stage public performances, the Nepal Association of Fine Arts, and the Nepal Arts Council were established to promote contemporary expression and an independent association initiated to promote Nepali handicraft.

The National Museums were also set up in Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur during this period. The royal portraits of the Shah dynasty were painted by the famous artists of the era: Balkrishna Sama, Chandra Man Maskey, Tej Bahadur Chitrakar and Amar Chitrakar and were installed in museums and government offices. In 1952, the Nepal Art Society and Kala Samiti were registered. Three years later Gehendra Man Amatya, a self taught artist exhibited a series of non figurative works –now considered a departure in the history of Nepali contemporary art. In 1960, Narayan Bahadur Singh began a column in the Gorkhapatra National Daily, dedicated to the arts. A year later, King Mahendra was to meet three Nepali artists during his tour of Europe, one of them was Lain Singh Bangdel who had graduated from the Ecole National Des Beaux Arts in Paris and was residing in London. King Mahendra invited Bangdel to Nepal to play a pivotal role in taking Nepali art forward.

Lain Singh Bangdel, End of the Day, 1957
Lain Singh Bangdel, End of the Day, 1957

 

The birth of modern art in Nepal

In 1962, the King inaugurated Lain Singh’s exhibition of abstract paintings at Saraswati Sadan. His paintings marked the beginning of modernism in Nepal and Bangdel was appointed Head of the Faculty of the Fine Arts at the Royal Nepal Academy by the King. He held multiple portfolios: literature, art, music, drama and administration. He also contributed greatly to the Nepal Association of Fine Arts and in co-founding the Nepal Art Council. With his untimely demise in 2002, Nepal lost a celebrated artist, writer, novelist and art historian.

The Paris trained printmaker Urmila Garg Upadhyay returned to Nepal in 1962 and held the first exhibition of prints. The third artist that the King met while on his tour of Europe was the Paris based Nepali artist Laxman Shrestha. After attending an exhibition of Shrestha’s oeuvre in France, King Mahendra was greatly impressed by the artists work and invited him to Nepal. In 1964, Shrestha returned to Nepal and held an exhibition of his paintings at Saraswati Sadan. The mountains, the ethereal mists of Nepal were to become a continued source of inspiration for the artist. Though Laxman eventually settled in India and was to become an acclaimed artist, his exhibition and his work had generated excitement in the contemporary art scene in Nepal.

The first generation of modern artists

Aspiring artists Kesab Duwadi, Ramananda Joshi, Thakur Prasadh Mainali, Pramila Giri, Uttam Nepali, Shankar Raj Suwal, Vijay Thapa, Shashi Bikram Shah, Batsa Gopal Vaidya, Krishna Manandhar, Indra Pradhan, Madan Chitrakar, Manuj Babu Mishra and Shashikala Tiwari journeyed to India, East Pakistan, France and beyond to study the fine arts and were to return with new ideas and expressions that would define the post modernist arts movement in Nepal. In 1965, the Nepal Association of Fine Arts organized the first National Art Exhibition, which was presided over by the Crown Prince Birendra Bikram Shah who continued to patronize the arts through the 70’s and 80’s.

The second wave of art graduates returned in the 1970’s: Surendra Bhatterai, Pravin Shrestha, Kir an Manandhar, Birendra Pratap Singh, Ragini Upadhyay Grela, Parmesh Adhikari, Yuvak Tuladhar, Laya Mainali and Raj Manandhar. The influx of artists created new dynamics in the contemporary art scene – artists collectives were formed such as the SKIB Group [Shashi Shah, Krishna Manandhar, Indra Pradhan and Batsa Gopal Vaidya], the Young Artist Group and Artist’s Society of Nepal which had a broader membership base. The individual and collective contributions by the artists created a definite impact on the psyche of the public. It is also during this period that Nepali artists would travel abroad to take part in inter-regional and international art events: the Dhaka Art Biennale and in Fukuoka Asian Art Exhibition.

                                                      Shashikala Tiwari. From the “Meera” series, 2005

 

Ramananda Joshi a graduate from the Sir J.J. School of Art in India, opened the Park Gallery in 1970 as a hub for artists, art activities and as a commercial space for the arts. By the 1980’s, the original patrons of the arts, the temples, the aristocracy and government, were replaced by private galleries, which were established by artists and entrepreneurs, in response to the need for professionally managed spaces where contemporary Nepali art could be exhibited and marketed. The J Art Gallery was established by the entrepreneur Hirendra Bajracharya. A few years later Kiran Manandhar opened the Palpasa Gallery. In 1987 alone, three art galleries were opened: the Srijana Gallery, established by Birendra Pratap Singh, the Pumori Art Gallery founded by Ragini Upadhaya and the Siddhartha Art Gallery which was opened by Sangeeta Thapa and Shashikala Tiwari. Though some of the galleries have now closed, new galleries have emerged.

                                                                             Birendra Pratap Singh – Untitled.

Though the arts gained an unprecedented momentum, it is important to remember that censorship was a key issue during the Panchayat period. However artists, writers and poets were allowed to use the traditional festival of Gaijatra to voice their frustrations against the State. The Royal Nepal Academy organized gala shows satirizing and lampooning the leaders of the time. Along with the public, the King and his Ministers attended the performances, enjoying the parodies. A key feature of these times was the publication of a magazine called “Bhand-Bhailo” in 1983 – which was only released during Gaijatra by the Young Artists Group. Contemporary artists contributed their cartoons while writers penned their satirical and humorous anti–establishment texts.

Even though at one level of life, the visual narratives of the artists were drawn from traditional religious iconography and symbolism, from its agrarian settings, folk art motifs and universal human emotions, the contemporary arts began to reflect socio-political tensions, a yearning for change and the desire to be free from the censure of the Panchayat system. In 1990, Nepal was to witness a historic revolution that called for greater democratic freedom, thus ending three decades of Panchayat system of government.

Ragini Upadhyay – Love in the Air

Ragini’s bold portrait of the royal family sporting signature dark glasses, was a powerful commentary on the royal family’s lack of awareness of reality. Her works in 2001, focused on the ineptitude of politicians. Her solo exhibition ‘Gaijatra’ in 2010, caricatured the greed and lust for power that lead the country down an abyss of misrule and corruption. However, her works have landed her in controversy on some occasions. Her exhibition ‘Love is in the Air’ in 2011, courted controversy as the artist depicted herself as the modern day Goddess Saraswati or Goddess of Wisdom riding a swan. A US based Hindu outfit, the Forum for Hindu Awakening, asked the artist to take the work off the website. This incident marks the first instance in Nepal, of an artist’s work being deemed offensive by a religious organization. A staunch advocate for women’s rights, even in the art field, Ragini established WAGON (Women Artists Group Nepal) a non-profit organization dedicated to the uplifting women artists.

 

The second generation of modern artists

The early 1990’s bustled with local and international exhibitions and activities. In 1991, Uma Shankar Shah returned from Banaras Hindu University with an MFA in Printmaking. In 1993, Jyoti Duwadi a Nepali artist residing in the US travelled to Kathmandu to present his site specific installation ‘Myth of the Nagas’ and ‘Kathmandu Valley Watershed’. This event would be the first time installation art was presented to the public. However, the years between 1996 and 2006 quickly metamorphosed into turbulent and bewildering times as Nepal reeled under twelve years of a bloody civil war. In 2001, three events were to stun the world: the bombing of the Bamiyan Buddha in Afghanistan, the massacre of the royal family in Nepal and the bombing of the world trade Center in the USA. Many Nepali artists such as Shashi Shah, Shashikala Tiwari, Ragini Upadhyay Grela, Gopal Kalapremi responded to these events with powerful and compelling works.

Some of the key names from this period include: Gopal Kalapremi, Ashmina Ranjit, Prashant Shrestha, Sudarshan Rana, Sunita Rana, Erina Tamrakar, Binod Shrestha, Pradeep Bajracharya, Bhairaj Maharjan, Pramila Bajracharya, Sunila Bajracharya, Asha Dangol, Binod Pradhan, Sarita Dangol, Kirti Kaushal Joshi, Sujan Chitrakar, Kishor Rajbhandary, Manish Lal Shrestha, Sunil Sigdel, Jupiter Pradhan, Purnima Yadav, Prithivi Shrestha and Saurganga Darshandhari. Some of these artists travelled abroad to further their studies – and were to return to Nepal to play an important role in strengthening the local art community.

 

The present generation of modern artists

On the political front, extrajudicial killings, murders, kidnappings, disappearances and turmoil, continued to ravage the nation. The works by Shashi Shah, Durga Baral, Shashikala Tiwari, Kiran Manandhar, Jyoti Duwadi, Ragini Upadhyay Grela, Ashmina Ranjit, Sudarshan Rana, Manish Lal Shrestha, Sunil Sigdel, Sujan Chitrakar, Asha Dangol, Om Khatri, Govinda Azad, Chirag Bangdel and a host of other artists provided powerful commentary on these tragic and bellicose times. In 2007, Nayantara Kakshyapati launched ‘Photo Circle’ as a platform for emerging and professional photographers and as photo archive. In May 2008, the Kingdom of Nepal metamorphosed into a Federal Democratic Republic, thereby ending the rule of the 240-year-old Shah dynasty. Statues of the Shah Kings that had been installed across the country were vandalized and paintings of the monarchy removed from all government offices. In the same year, the palace of the Shah Kings – Narayanhiti Durbar- was converted to a Museum.

The sweeping political changes also impacted the indigenous and marginalized communities who demanded that their voices be heard beyond the confines of the house of parliament. The need to develop national cultural policies that were socially inclusive was finally brought to the forefront. The various presentations of indigenous cultures have added a greater dimension to the field of art, music, dance, theatre and cinematography. In 2008, the Society for Modern Art SOMA was registered and an indigenous language magazine for arts and culture published by Chomolunga Pratishtan Nepal. Two years later the Kirat Fine Arts Association and the Mithila Artist’s Society were also registered.

 

Durga Baral 'Batsayan' (2005) - Death of Constitutional Monarchy Durga Baral ‘Batsayan’ (2005) – Death of Constitutional Monarchy

 

 

Kathmandu International Arts Festival and now “Kathmandu Triennale”

In 2009, the First Kathmandu International Art Festival was held as a theme-based, non-commercial, contemporary arts festival. Organized by the Siddhartha Art Gallery, the Festival used the medium of art to address critical socio-political issues. The event was conceived as a platform to establish Kathmandu as an international arts hub. KIAF served as a visual narrative on the ‘Status of Women’. Inaugurated by the former Living Goddess, over 100 artists from 25 countries participated in the event spread out across six different venues in the city. The festival served to introduce new perspectives in art practices to Kathmandu.

Exhibitions by BFA graduates from Kathmandu University also set the tone for bold new approaches in contemporary art. In 2010, Tribhuvan University officially began its MFA program with eminent printmaker Dr. Seema Sharma Shah at the helm as Head of Department, Central Department of Fine Arts. Hitman Gurung, Mekh Limbu, Arjun Khaling and Jaya Shankar Son Shrestha are some of the artists that graduated from this institution. The works made by this young generation of artists, focus on socio-political issues: the status of women, human trafficking, the environment, pollution, art made from materials sourced from the junkyard, politics, war, the seduction of power, a growing awareness of one’s ethnicity, architecture and heritage, traffic woes, the saga of migration and the search for spirituality in an increasingly chaotic urban space.

On a parallel level, the need to explore alternative art practices in contemporary art beyond the confines of a Gallery structure, was to lead to the opening of multiple art spaces: Kastamandap Studio, Sutra, Kathmandu Contemporary Arts Centre, Sattya, Lasana Live Art Hub, Artudio, Bindu space for artists, Bikalpa, Srijanalaya and Art Lab. The art residencies, workshops, interactions, art forums, street art initiatives, photography and film screenings brought national and international art practitioners together and have challenged the existing patriarchal concepts and succeeded in connected art to the local community and to a wider audience.

In August 2012 a death threat was issued against Manish Harijan by members of the World Hindu Forum who had visited Harijan’s solo exhibition at the Siddhartha Art Gallery. After this visit, a case was registered at the Central District Office demanding: the arrest of both the artist and Gallery Director, the seizure of Harijan’s paintings and the sealing of the gallery on the spurious grounds that the works posed a threat to public security as they were anti-national and anti-Hindu. Manish‘s paintings of Hindu gods with western super heroes satirized the commercialization of Hindu and Buddhist icons. The misinterpretation of the work in a secular new Nepal, created a furore in the art world and revealed the gap between what the State perceived Art should be, and what contemporary artists in Nepal are making.

 

Artists rally for freedom of expression.
 Artists rally for freedom of expression. Photo Courtesy: Navesh Chitrakar /Reuters

 

The Second Kathmandu International Art Festival –EARTH BODY MIND was held in 2012. Thematically centred on environment and climate change, this mega event drew 100 artists from 35 countries. Diaspora artists Jyoti Duwadi and Ang Tsering Sherpa also participated in the Festival. More than 400,000 visitors attended the exhibitions and events which were spread across sixteen venues in the city. The cumulative energy of the Festival has contributed towards propelling contemporary art in Nepal towards a bold new direction. A series of interesting developments were to follow, in 2014 the photographer Kashish Das Shrestha opened the City Museum and a few months later the very first Children’s Art Museum was established by Sneha Shrestha. 2015 saw the first international photography festival take hold of the historic city of Patan. And in 2016, Photo.Circle organized the second edition of the event with an overwhelming response from local and international community. Today the arts in Nepal, is poised for a takeoff, despite the lack of government funding. It is important to recognize the resilience of the local artists and role played by private art galleries and institutions to create awareness about the vitality and potential of this field.

 

 

SOURCE:
http://kt.artmandu.org/news/brief-review-of-the-contemporary-art-in-nepal-from-1920-2016/

Meena Kayastha at Siddhartha Art Gallery: Upscaling debris into art

Meena Kayastha at Siddhartha Art Gallery: Upscaling debris into art

Artist Meena Kayastha (1983) lives and works in Kathmandu. She is considered a “chronicler of the woes of industrialization”. She is known to transform recycled and discarded objects into works of art through her astute and creative ideas. She sometimes even combines musical instruments with junkyard scrap to bring out the emotive quality of human figures. A recent entrant into the art scene, Kayastha’s work has been described as ‘boldly dada-esque’.
She is a graduate of the Department of Arts and Design, Kathmandu University, Nepal. The show at Siddhartha Gallery is her second major solo exhibition there and will continue through January 11th, 2017.

meena-cropped

See a short video of her work before the repost of a KATHMANDU POST article on the recent opening of the exhibition below.

 

On Nov 29, 2016 Sakchham Karki writes in the KATHMANDU POST:

A solo art exhibition, titled “Divine Debris” which features work by Meena Kayastha is currently on display at Siddhartha Art Gallery in Babarmahal in the capital. The exhibit that features 19 of artist Kayastha’s paintings, where the rubble from last year’s quakes serves as canvases, was inaugurated by Dr Arzu Rana Deuba.

Most of the paintings feature Hindu gods and goddesses as subjects, highlighted by a series of Navadurgas painted on traditional wooden doors.

Speaking to the Kathmandu Post, artist Kayastha said, “After the April 25 earthquake, Bhaktapur was utterly devastated, particularly its wooden artifacts for which the city is famous for. I wanted to turn this debris into art.”

Besides using traditional wooden doors as a base, the artist has also made use of shovels, lawn mowers and bicycles and morphed them into goddesses like Vaisnavi, Kumari, Bhrahmayani, Barahi, Indrayani and gods such as Swet Bhairav, Ganesha, and Yamaraj, among others.

meena-post-collage

Speaking on why she chose the Navadurga series as the focal point for the exhibit, Meena Kayastha said, “I chose Navadurga because they are the protectors of Bhaktapur city and I chose the doors for the base because they also symbolize protection that shields one from the external threats.” She added, “Further, I aim to point out the hypocrisy in our society where real women are treated as second class citizens, whereas goddesses are worshipped in almost every corner of the country.”

The artworks that took two years to complete have been priced at NRs 200,000 each.

Source: http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2016-11-29/upscaling-debris-into-art.html

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

More about a 2010 show of the artist:
http://artasiapacific.com/Magazine/WebExclusives/LyricsFromTheJunkyardMeenaKayastha

More background on the artist:
http://innovisuel.blogspot.de/2014/09/meena-kayastha-elegance-og-junk.html