Siddhartha Art Gallery is presently showing a collection of sculptures of veteran ceramic artist Gopal ‘Kalapremi’ Shrestha, and Georgian sculptor Gigisha Pachkoria. The sculptures were created during a one-month long ceramic workshop organised by the Siddhartha Arts Foundation.
Gigisha Pachkoria has come a long way from Georgia, where he is a wellknown artist. His joined effort with Gopal Kalapremi was sparked by their common interest in the promotion of ceramics art, which unfortunately is losing its authenticity in Nepal.
As Gopal Kalapremi expresses with passion: “I believe our contribution will aspire budding artists.” He also pointed out that more work by other artists would soon be on display at the gallery after the Dashain and Tihar festivities are over.
All photos: courtesy Rupesh Man Singh
Kalapremi’s specialty lies in ceramic pottery and reviving the traditional ways of creating such sculptures.
He recently showed his work in Denmark,—Tattoo Bulls and Heroes— and his creations were highly appreciated by the international audience.
On his current work, Kalapremi comments: “I always try to incorporate my identity as Nepali in my imagination as an artist.”
All photos: courtesy Rupesh Man Singh
Gallerist Sangeeta Thapa considers Kalapremi one of the foremost ceramic sculptors of Nepal. She expresses her appreciation: “I have known Gopal since 1997 and I must say that his work has evolved in the last two decades. Unlike many other artists, his work has grown organically and with every new work he manages to outdo himself.” She points out that for this exhibition Kalapremi and Pachkoria have used various eccentric techniques, such as beer firing, to create their sculptures.
Kalapremi is also set to organise another ceramic exhibit by Danish and Iranian sculptors in November.
The current exhibit will run until Oct 8, 2017
At the opening, from second left: artist Gopal Kalapremi, artist Gigisha Pachkoria, photographer Rupesh Man Singh, as well as fellow artist Meena Kayastha
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.”
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
For more info on TINGS LOUNGE HOTEL:
My absolute favourite hotel: TINGS, a jewel just off Lazimpat Road:
For more info on Aditya:
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
Chirag Bangdel’s most recent painting exhibition „Incantation“ began June 24 at Manny’s Eatery and Tapas Bar in Shaligram Complex, Jawalakhel.
Two series: “Geet Govinda” and “Seasons of Hope”
He is showing 35 paintings, organized along two themes: “Geet Govinda” and “Seasons of Hope”. “Geet Govinda” is celebrating love: in one exemplary painting Lord Krishna is playing his flute, surrounded by his Gopinis. These are joined by white swans which also seem enthralled by Krishna’s music. The paintings of the “Geet Govinda” series are set against plain colored backgrounds of strong black, blue, or orange color. In the “Season of Hope” series, Bangdel uses more subtle colors, creating somewhat calmer images, such as e.g. a man and a woman with a white conch shell or a woman sitting under a blooming tree with white flowers which are also falling from the tree. The personages depicted seem to be praying and hoping for a good outcome in their lives.
Art with the intention to heal
An article in the HIMALAYAN TIMES quotes the artist as saying: “I created my paintings after the earthquake and the blockade. Through my paintings I have tried to heal everyone and they are symbols of love and hope for me”. Chirag Bangdel adds: “My paintings are like a prayer based on spirituality, my kind of prayer or offering to expect peace and progress in the country. And for me art, at the end of the day, gives a perspective to my life where I realise that art is beyond creativity, beyond themes, and motifs. Art has made me who I am and it is my definition of life and lifestyle”.
Chirag Bangdel held an interesting speech at the opening, explaining in more detail the meaning behind his most recent creations. An excerpt of this speech is provided at the end of this post. Please also note that a number of his earlier works are available in Europe via Chautara Gallery near Amsterdam (please contact email@example.com for details).
Chirag Bangdel’s “Artist Statement” at the inauguration of the exposition:
Almost of all these paintings were created after the earthquake and after the infamous embargo or the nakabandi, if you please.
My paintings for sometime have been based on spiritual and if I may, religious perspectives. If you ask me why religious, that’s because the core of every religion is but love. Though over the years we have altered and added elements to our religions to safeguard and promote our… selfish needs. For me every religion is the same. As every religion is based on the fact that we have but one creator and that all beings are created the same. So we ask ourselves, what good are religions if we end up killing one another, the beings created by the same creator. For me all religions are the same. And I am as much a Hindu, as I am a Buddhist or a Christian.
Since 2003, I along with a lot of artists in the country have been depicting the violence that we have gone through, since the days of insurgency. That was important. This is the reason why artists are called avant gardes . I have been creating a series of installation art works called “Experience Red”. But having said all this, I have come to realize that there is so much violence around us, that if I wanted a little piece of mind today, I would listen to some music, or read a poem or look at a painting. There is so much violence that if we used it in our arts, I am afraid we will have nothing left.
Among other things, I want art to be a healer. A healer for me and for the audience.
I have also come to realize that whatever progress we make, it is only love that will save humanity at the end of the day. And that’s something that I want to depict in my paintings. One of my series that I have been working on for a long time is called “Geet Govinda”. As you may know, Geet Govinda is a book of poems by the 12 th century poet Jayadeva and it celebrates the love of Lord Krishna and Radha. However, I just borrow the title from the book. The paintings are created out of my own imaginations. The paintings are but the celebration of love.
The other series I have been working on is called “Season of Hope”. We go through a lot in life but we live on hope. I have used the conch or the saankha as a symbol of hope. The conch in the Astha Mangal represents the beautiful, deep, melodious, and pervasive sound of the dharma, which awakens people from the deep slumber of ignorance and urges them to accomplish their own welfare and the welfare of others. The conch is also blown to create a good vibration and when you start something auspicious.
My other artworks are based on our thoughts, elements and beliefs. I think we have these two broad schools of thought on visual art. One that says art has to be all universal and not even patriotic. And there is one school of thought that says, art needs to grow out of the surroundings and should carry the fragrance of the soil. I think I fall in the second category.
More about the artist here on our artist page!
Just before it’s over a quick post about a great exhibit at Siddhartha Art Gallery. I got to participate in the opening of two stunning young artists, Shraddha Shrestha aka Deadline and Kiran Maharajan aka H11235, with Kiran’s eye-catching cartoon-like paintings and Shraddha’s calligraphy influenced artworks. So finally street-art inspired paintings have made their way into the gallery!
The joint painting exhibition — ‘Holy Head Space’ by Deadline and ‘Life Is’ by H11235 — was kicked off on April 14 and lasts through May 10, 2016.
Let me repost from the Himalayan Times which came out on 17 April with a nice article on the exhibition (with slight modifications):
Wondering why the artworks of these street artists are in the gallery? Shraddha and Kiran are the recipients of the Australian Himalayan Foundation Art Award 2015. Since 2010 the Australian Himalayan Foundation has been awarding Nepali artist from various genres — traditional thanka painters, contemporary artists, print makers and street artists — to showcase their talent. And the winners of this award put forth an exhibition of their works, this being the sixth edition.
The works on display prove the high calibre of these artists’ — and justifies their awards. The two artists have expressed themselves in awesome figurative forms using their brilliant concept, skill, and colours.
Deadline’s (more on the artist here) paintings spread across the ground floor of the gallery. Her works are based on religious figures of Hinduism — Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesh, Goddess Parvati, Airawat elephant, Lord Narshigh, et cetera. Interestingly, rather than presenting their stereotypical images, she has presented them through extra terrestrial life, aliens and monsters. Fun to watch, the animated paintings are striking in bold neon shades — of pink, yellow, orange, green, et cetera.
For instance, in ‘Family Portrait’ she has painted the family of Lord Shiva and their bahan (vehicles). Deadline has transformed Shiva, his wife Parvati and two sons Kumar and Ganesh into aliens through clever use of colours and modification of their physical features. Lord Shiva in blue colour has three eyes but does not have a forehead and hair. Three eyes are seen popping out forming a head with a long beard. Parbati too has three eyes in shades of pink, half of her hair is maintained in a bun and other half is kept loose. Then Kumar’s rectangular face has eight purple eyes. Ganesh with bright yellow round eyes and green body is wearing dhoti. Their bahan — bull, peacock, mouse and tiger — resemble soft toys.
However, works of H11235 (more about Kiran here) have serious tone — they compare and contrast the qualities of humans and animals. He has used the technique of photo realism, calligraphy and deconstructivism to create his works.
In one of his painting ‘Beginning’, he has painted a new born baby of human and calf of an elephant. He has painted it in the grey backdrop with elements of calligraphy in white. The body of the baby and calf are merged — their different body parts are placed together to form one complete body. The body parts are placed in synchronised way, without any difficulty to watch the distorted form of lives.
Ten days ago in Kathmandu I had the chance to join in the opening of a wonderful exhibit of small brass sculptures by Shrawan Kumar Maharjan. This young artist was discovered by Thomas and Annette Tingstrup of TINGS LOUNGE HOTEL, my favourite place to stay in Kathmandu, who spontaneously fell in love with the artworks and their creator. This is Shrawan’s first show of sculpture ever and he impressed the public at the opening and enjoyed some good sales. (More info on the artist on separate blogpost here!)
To give you some more detailed information I am reposting an article from the HIMALAYANA TIMES, written by Sunita Lohani under the titel “The frog connection” which was published today, May 2nd 2016:
All good things come in small sizes. Shrawan Kumar Maharjan’s ‘Follow The Frogs’ is just that. The tiny sculptures of frogs on display from April 22 at Tings Tea Lounge, Lazimpat, easily amaze you. Fusing Hindu and Buddhist traditions, cultures and legends, he has created intriguing sculptures under 18 different titles, taking you to a journey of his frog’s land.
photos: Thomas Tingstrup and Beata Wiggen
Maharjan’s frogs are unique and interesting — they have the head and feet of frogs, but have human body. The physical features of humans and frogs seem to be blended in his works.
From three-inch ‘Baby Frogs’ to 11-inch ‘It’s Raining’, Maharjan’s works are of diverse nature. For instance, a 9.5-inch tall ‘Playing Instrument’ has a figure (man or frog) playing a flute-like instrument — it reminds you of the musicians playing flute in jatras of Newari culture. Innocence of childhood is evident in ‘Wheel Players’ and you are at once drawn to your childhood seeing this 7.5 inch tall sculpture. It shows a child playing with wheel.
This is his first exhibition, yet the artist, while doing Bachelor’s in Fine Arts (BFA) at Banaras Hindu University in India, also used frogs to create artworks for semester assignments.
Why is he so obsessed with frogs? “It has a Kathmandu connection,” says Maharjan who was born and brought up in the capital. “It is believed that Kathmandu Valley once was a kuwa (pond) and the frog was the king of that pond,” he adds. Another belief — it rains when frogs croak — also inspired the artist to choose frogs as his motif. Among all his works, the artist likes his ‘Basket Carriers’ best — a figure with the head of a frog but a human body, carrying a kharpan (basket carrier). “It reminds me of my childhood days when I used to see such people in Kathmandu.” ‘Playing kite in festivals’ has been inspired by the artist’s experience of flying kites in different festival when he was a child.
This is Maharjan’s first solo sculpture exhibition. All the sculptures have been made from brass. Being inspired by his elder brother, artist Jujukaji Maharjan, along with unique styles of sculptures of Kathmandu, he jumped into this field. Next time, he plans to blow off your mind with bowl shaped sculptures of wax with metal casting. The exhibition is on till May 22.
photos: Beata Wiggen
On Thursday 31st March Saroj Bajracharya’s “The Missing Link” solo exhibition very successfully opened at PARK GALLERY Rnjc, Pulchowk, in Kathmandu. The exhibition will remain open until 31st of May.
(For more information on the artist see a second post here!)
Saroj Bajracharya has been in the art field for more than two decades. He has been actively involved in many facets of art, including painting, writing, curating and coordinating art events, as well as teaching. He has various group shows and solo exhibitions to his credit and has authored two books: “Future of History” and “A Concise Introduction to Nepali Modern Sculpture”.
His first group show dates back as far as 1994. Since then he has participated in a great number of art activities and was selected to participate in the curatorial research program by the the National Museum of Contemporary Art in South Korea in 2008. This is his 5th solo exhibition: THE MISSING LINK.
Why “The Missing Link”?
While previously having dealt with a sense of not-belonging or a state of belongingness the artist presently focuses on the idea of the missing link.
Saroj is a conceptual figurative artist and his artworks are complex: cosmonauts are the protagonists of his works, supported by the sea, a chair, or just mild colors in the background.
The “missing link” is a contested term used by scientists to point out the span of evolution from ape to human. The artist uses this term instead to point out the blurry aspect of human consciousness. He believes that humans are result-oriented and seldom value the process involved. “In the process itself lies our undiscovered fragment of history. It is the unending construction that shapes us”, explains the artist. This easily overlooked process constitutes the missing link for Bajracharya. “If one focuses on this missing link, then the clarity in our thoughts will make our life more alive and profound”.
(text based on gallery information)
Trying to raise money for the reconstruction of the Nepalese art scene, shattered after the earthquake of earlier this year, NEAC (Nepal Europe Art Centre) – in collaboration with Kala Nest – exhibits today, Saturday 10 October 2015, in the lobby of the Stadschouwburg (the Amsterdam city theater) works of both Nepali and Dutch artists. A live video connection was established between the NEAC studio in Kathmandu and Amsterdam so artists could interact and see each others works and virtually join hands in this event.
NEAC foundation facilitates a cultural exchange between Nepali and European artists from different disciplines. The foundation organises projects, workshops and exhibitions in Nepal and the Netherlands.
Participating artists from Nepal are Tej Tatna Shakya, Sagar Manandhar, Tejesh Man Shrestha, Sundar Lama, Rabita Kisi, Sandhya Silwal, Muna Badel, Bikash Tamakhu, Laxman Bazra Lama, and Siddhartha Shrestha.
Dutch artists are Lisette Wissink, Sidyon Cucaro, Femke Woltering, D.I.T. De Vos Lama, Sayaka Abe, and Pablo Ponce.
The exhibition was opened by Dr. Edwin Luitzen De Vos and goes on into the night tonight.
I wish the NEAC actives and the participating artists much success and hope wholeheartedly that a good crowd will come and see (and buy!) the artworks. Thanks very much for your efforts to get this exhibit “Art For Nepal – Sculpting Possibilities” together and I hope to visit NEAC studio in Patan when I come to KTM in February of next year.
detail of work by Muna Badel
The URBAN MYTHS 3 Exhibition opened yesterday, and despite the general strike the gallery is open during its regular hours of 10AM – 6:30PM (unless otherwise mentioned on the FB page and Twitter account).
So go check out a colorful mix of art works by international and Nepali street artists, including the live art that was produced during the opening last night by SadhuX. The Fig Cafe is open too (see impressions of the café at the end of the post!), so you can cool yourself down with some chilled Nepali guccha soda or iced Nepali coffee, freshly made iced tea, and grab a sandwich filled with nepali cheese and avocado!
URBAN MYTHS 3: International Group Street Art Exhibition. Poster Artwork: Deadline
Additional support: Tings
LIVE ART by Sadhu-X LIVE MUSIC by Gnirehst + Outtalectual
LIMITED EDITIONS: New works by Nepali street artists, limited edition signed works by international artists.
(For your info: URBAN MYTHS was a solo stencil exhibition of works by Sadhu-X at the museum in October of 2014. URBAN MYTHS 2 was an exhibition hosted in Brooklyn, New York, with Cluster Wall, featuring works by Nepali artists in February of 2015).
… and here some impressions of the lovely FIG CAFE, great place for a coffee and a meeting with friends!
… connecting to the Kathmandu arts scene lies at the heart of this blog. In an exemplary fashion this blogpost shows the process of the work at the NepalNOW project. Located in Holland I had been following a lot of FB posts with images gearing up to the exhibition, had received my invitation for the opening, had become a bit sad at not being able to be there but also excited to learn more about this great artist in due time.
So I waited around for coverage of the event and was first delighted by a whole album of shots from the opening evening via ARTUDIO , some of which I permit myself to repost here.
I then searched the internet for information on the artist and came across the speech curator/gallerist Sangeeta Thapa held at Siddhartha Gallery for a previous opening of a show of Singh in 2009, which you will find towards the end of this post. This morning, finally, I was happy to find a just published article on the event itself on ekanitpur.com, written by young Sophia Pande, actually taking us with her through the exhibition (see below).
But first the artist himself in a nutshell:
Birendra Pratap Singh completed his BFA from Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in 1979 and has exhibited in Nepal, India, Bangladesh, South Korea, Japan and the UK. His works are also in collections at the Fukuoka Art Museum, Japan, and the Tribhuvan International Airport.
His body of works illustrates various perspectives of human beings and the environment they live in, ranging from landscapes to cityscapes. He is ever attempting to represent the reality of human existence. while traditional sculptures and socio-cultural images are also captured in his works with a message of disappearing heritage in new Nepal.
Sophia Pande writes in Ekantipur.com :
Birendra Pratap Singh: Curating A Lifetime of Art
As a retrospective, the exhibition succeeds exceedingly well, mainly due to elements such as the curators’ comprehensive access to Singh’s work
Last month, Nepal’s brightest and most committed artists, curators, and art administrators participated in a five-day-long workshop conducted by Veeranganakumari Solanki, a talented young Indian curator, and run by the Siddhartha Arts Foundation.
During the workshop, the participants and observers discussed critical art theories, art historical premises, different kinds of viewership, making use of spaces, lighting, the subtle art of luring people to galleries, alternative art spaces, and everything in between. In addition to visiting sites and looking at private collections, the workshop attendees also sifted through and analysed the vast body of works of the very brilliant Nepali artist Birendra Pratap Singh—a man who has been ready to paint since he was born (this assertion is from a quote by the artist himself, beautifully taking up an entire wall in the exhibition).
The result of the workshop, which was followed up by an immense amount of research on the part of the curators, can be seen today in a stunning month-long retrospective of Singh’s work at the Nepal Art Council in Babarmahal. The retrospective spans the artist’s long, varied career from 1971 till 2015.
For those of you who have been to the Nepal Art Council before, you will recognise, with pleasure, that it has been overhauled and revamped to gleam for this particular exhibition. Also delightful, and a great indicator for those who are looking for the venue, are the outdoor banners adorning the edifice of the art council building. The fluttering signs are simply, but powerfully, just the artist’s distinctive signature, written in the Devanagari script, the lines of which convey, unmistakably, the hand of someone used to wielding a pen to do his will.
Inside, the exhibition takes up two entire floors; again an indicator of the artist’s prolific and continuous ability to evolve and produce works that are incredibly wide-ranging in terms of medium, but always sophisticated, both in their execution and in the thought that leads to the finished product.
This particular show (with Sangeeta Thapa as Exhibition Director),curated by Sujan Chitrakar, and assistant curated by Palistha Kakshapati (both Chitrakar and Kakshapati are artists themselves; both attended the aforementioned curatorial workshop), will immediately strike the discerning viewer as being different from the usual conventional form seen thus far in Nepal.
The art council has a great deal of space and the curators have used this space in a subtle, sophisticated manner, grouping together montages of Singh’s drawings, using their aesthetics to hang the different sizes and shapes of frames together to complement each particular work. There is not a lot of explication of the pieces, just the small, sometimes humourous, little plaques relating the era and method (pen and ink, etching, etc), to place the works in the artist’s timeline.
As a retrospective, the exhibition succeeds exceedingly well, mainly due to elements such as the curators’ comprehensive access to Singh’s work and the excellent and charming hand-painted timeline (a tribute to the sign painters the artist has been associated with)that tracks the artist’s trajectory, chronicling the happenings in his life related to the arts and to other life events that have surely affected him.
Then there is the very original use of space, leaving large areas blank for the mind to wander and assess what it has just seen, as well as the understated perfectly tuned warm, soft lighting that enhances the works. There is also a darkened room where those who find it harder to engage with art can view a short film about Singh’s life and work. Finally, to really draw people in, the retrospective also houses a pop-up café (run by Nanglo) as a community space for people to gather, hopefully discuss the exhibition, and maybe even repeat their visit.
All of the elements I have mentioned above are choices available to curators, choices that lead to a successful exhibition, or not. In this particular case, I cannot help but be immensely grateful to those responsible for this show for their care, hard work, and thoughtful, sometimes ingenious choices that have contributed towards making such a memorable art experience—one that truly highlights the work of this great artist, who will turn 60 this year.
Reposted from: 2015-03-29 08:40 in ekantipur.com
… and then there is this additional valuable information from Sangeeta Thapa:
INTRODUCTION to BIRENDRA PRATAP SINGH’s exhibition at the Siddhartha Art Gallery (in May 2009)
I first came across Birendra Pratap Singh and his pen and ink drawings at the Srijana Art Gallery in Jamal in the summer of 1987.
The Gallery was situated close to the Rastriya Naach Ghar and over looked the scenic Rani Pokhari and the hustle bustle of the frenzied traffic intersection of Kantipath, Bhotahity and Jamal. This was before Srijana Art Gallery relocated to a more spacious address further up the road. I learnt that Birendra Pratap Singh was one of the founder members of the Srijana Art Gallery and that he was working at Gorkhapatra Sansthan, the national newspaper, in the capacity of art director/illustrator. It was not difficult to forge a rapport with this soft-spoken bespectacled artist whose intense gaze and quirky sense of humor seemed to fit right in with his reputation as the “only one irregular drawer of Nepal”. Many years later, in 2005, he participated in the exhibition ‘Celebrating Line” that was dedicated to drawings at the Siddhartha Art Gallery.
Sangeeta Thapa standing with the artist at 2015 Retrospective
For Birendra, traditional architecture and the environment are the two subjects close to his heart. His early drawings of the Benares Ghats as a student in the late 1970’s, display his command of line and his preoccupation with architecture. It is interesting to compare how this formal academic style of drawing was to change with time. The artist describes his drawings as “pure psychic automatism” – a deep personal reaction to Nepal’s unique cultural landscapes. Whether it is Bungmati, Khokana or Bhaktapur, there is a deep concern about the country’s incomparable collective heritage and the “fragile environment.” This is why his exhibition in 1994 was deliberately titled “Save Bungamati”.
Over the last thirty years, Birendra has deliberately cast aside a formal academic style and has chosen to distort perspective, maintaining that in irregular drawing “there is a value of each and every line and form”. As an admirer of the Surrealists and the Dadaists he imbues his drawings with a sense of fantasy. Like a voyeur who has stumbled upon a time past, his pen and ink drawings of Khokana, Bungamati Baglung and Bhaktapur reveal a world where men, women and children with spindly crooked legs, sprawl out on crooked woven mats that are juxtaposed next to crooked haystacks. Even the house and lanes are crooked and the temples and stupas seemed to stoop over precariously, reminding me of a poem, that we were taught as children… “there was a crooked man, who lived in a crooked house..”
Concern with Nepal’s endangered heritage
However there are more serious pressing issues in the artist’s drawings. In 1989, a major earthquake struck Nepal, causing much damage. An earlier earthquake in 1933, leveled many cultural monuments, altering the cultural landscape of Kathmandu forever. The fear that Nepal may lose all its cultural monuments in the next great earthquake looms large in the artist’s mind. Birendra also feels that uncontrolled urbanization and the recent political changes in the country have not brought in policies that protect and conserve the county’s endangered heritage. The reality is that our iconic monuments are now in a dilapidated state and have been reduced to becoming icons of apathy and fatalism. This neglect of heritage and the environment was to give Birendra his raison d’etre as an artist. Over the years he has traveled all over Nepal, and created his own archive of photographs that document Nepal’s heritage. The artist uses these photographs as reference for his heritage series. Birendra’s latest drawings of Bhaktapur draw attention to the city’s great culture. There is a deliberate heightened sense of decay in these drawings to draw attention to the pressing need for preservation – even the subjects in the drawings seem to take aversion to the ruinous state of their city. The statue of Jayasthithi Malla comes alive, and seems ready to avenge those who put this fabled city of art at peril. Even the stone animals walk across the Durbar Square in defiance of the fate bestowed upon them in the 21st century. In yet another drawing, masks come alive and decry their neglect – a villager gazes at these transformed masks in astonishment.
Birendra Pratap’s eleventh solo exhibition is a provocative celebration of Nepal’s tangible and intangible heritage. It can also be viewed as a satire on Nepal political, economic and social situation. As Nepalis we need to ask ourselves a pertinent question; what will the loss of culture and heritage mean to its citizens, to the country and to the world? It is easy to get seduced by the playful charm of the artist’s drawings but above all it is important to be cognizant that Birendra’s work advocates for a committed response from his viewers.
Sangeeta Thapa, Art Curator/Director, Siddhartha Art Gallery
Ceramic artists in Nepal are far and few between. One outstanding artist is Gopal Das Shrestha Kalapremi, whose amazing works I was fortunate to see earlier in SIDDHARTHA ART GALLERY in the Baber Mahal Revisited Complex in Kathmandu. The KATHMANDU POST featured an article on the present show in the gallery, title “Masculinism” which I would like to repost below:
Bulls on parade
Nepal’s pioneering ceramic artist Gopal Kalapremi’s latest collection deals with the sufferings of males in society
Where women are dominated, men are dominated and where men are dominated, women are dominated. This concept of artist Gopal Das Shrestha Kalapremi has driven him to create his latest body of work. Kalapremi’s newest collection consists of four separate series bound within one theme—masculinity. Titled Masculism, the exhibition is a continuity of the artist’s Key series, and the exhibit is primarily based on the still life object that is a key. But for the artist a key is something of a very different nature.
Although Kalapremi is a multi-disciplinary artist—whose experimentations range from performances to land art—Masculism is all about ceramics. The artist, over the years, has garnered a reputation as the only Nepali artist who has been practicing and exploring the media as a form of art.
This series of his, set to be exhibited tomorrow at the Siddhartha Art Gallery, is an example of how much of the material he has explored.
The artist briefing about his bulls
According to the gallery set-up plan, upon entering the gallery ground floor, a herd of bulls will confront you. Titled Godana Godieka Sandeharu, these are proud bulls—while some graze the floor, others are swinging their heads as if in some sort of a trance. And in their crack-textured raku (a Japanese pottery technique) bodies are brandings and tattoos.
“It is a religious act to brand a bull with a trident and send it off. It was alright to do so in the past as there was enough pasture in Kathmandu for the bulls to graze on and they could find cows to mate with. But things are different now. These bulls who are let go for good end up in Pashupati, unattended to, eating junk and rolling over in their own faeces,” says Kalapremi.
For the artist, these bulls of his are a metaphor for men in society. Kalapremi believes that, although hardly talked about, men in our society have been suffering physically, psychologically and spiritually.
“The pursuit of equality has not been of balance, but has been like a fight almost,” he says. According to the artist, “Males are more victimised than females.”
Kalapremi’s Key represents the male. And along with the bulls is Nalekhieka Katha Haruka Rekhachitra. This series, a collection of 12×12 inch raku-ware slabs, are wax-resist illustrations. The check board dominates the compositions—something that is the artist’s symbol for politics. Padlocks recur in the images—evidently, the artist’s symbol for the feminine.
One of the 12×12 raku slabs
Appropriations of works by Van Gogh, Picasso, Munch and Schiele have been done in some of the blocks. The content is surreal and expressionist—I especially like the one where a man is sitting on Van Gogh’s chair, likey to be the Dutch painter himself, his face on his palms.
“In our society, a man has never been given the liberty to cry. He cries in solitude, in torture or in insanity,” says Kalapremi.
All the works in this series are ‘black and white’, rightly suiting the artist’s concept. Sancho Bhitrakaa Kathaaharu, the third series, will be lined in a semi-circle on the top floor of the gallery.
Gallery owner Sangeeta Thapa’s statement for the exhibitions states that the series is a “phallic sculptural series that dwells on identity.” It further adds: “The ‘Keys’ seem to be engaged in a conversation of their own importance and uselessness.”
The first floor exhibit Nil Ratnaharu, which is the fourth of the series, is similar in shape to the ones on the top floor. They are copper carbonate glaze and according to Thapa’s statement is a “homage to the Blue Diamond Society” and that they “mirror the trauma of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender group with its ribbed, slashed phallic sculptures which sometimes merge the feminine.”
Kalapremi’s sculptures and paintings are a delight to look at. They are a product of years of experimentation, of spontaneity (in the drawings) and most importantly an artist’s urge to express himself. But how will Kalapremi’s concept fare when the exhibition opens to the public tomorrow?
In her statement, Thapa says that the artist’s work conveys the pain and tragedy of the male. “However,” she says, “the concept of Masculism may not sit well in a nation, where women are clamouring for their rights… Masculism has been alive and kicking in Nepal for an eternity on multiple levels.”
Although the artist might seem a bit extreme to make such claims, when I asked him in person, he responded by saying: “Looking for equality is a good thing, but what is happening in its name is bad. Men and women aren’t supposed to fight each other. They are to form a bond of love and exist together in balance. A natural balance.”
Published by Nhooja Tuladhar in KATHMANDU POST 20-2-2015
An earlier installation of ceramic works at Kathmandu International Arts Festival KIAF 2012
City Museum Kathmandu’s first American showcase of Street and Contemporary Art from Nepal in New York — This Weekend in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (132 Bedford Ave / N10 St.).
Do come if you are in in New York, and do tell your friends about it in the area!
OPENING: Friday, 6 Feb. at 6PM SHOWCASE: Saturday, 7 Feb. 10AM-9PM.
Organized in partnership with Cluster Wall, Brooklyn. Featured Artists:
- Aditya Aryal,
- Binod Pradhan,
- Hitmaan Gurung,
- Kailash K Shrestha,
- Mekh Limbu,
- Dr. Seema Sharma Shah,
- Shraddha Shrestha,
- Sudeep Prasad Balla,
- Prof. Uma Shankar Shah.
Also Featuring: Journals by Bhav – भाव, artisanal Kaligarh jewelry, Himalayan Jewellery made by women rescued from trafficking.
14 March 2014, 6- 8 PM
TINGS openings are far from the traditional gallery inaugurations. They wont have an ambassador, CEO or other VIP’s to cut a red ribbon. Instead they will have a lot of art lovers and other creatives from Nepal and the rest of the world.
Thomas from TINGS: If you have been to our previous openings you know the program. Doors open at 6 pm where we will start serving drinks and selected snacks from Tings Menu.
Maybe we will have music – maybe we wont. It depends on what’s around that matches the ‘universe’ of the art. Beats & Hip Hop is obvious… so if you know a good DJ do not hesitate to call us.
But there will be a lot of guests and hopefully a lot of journalists. At 8 pm we will stop serving food and drinks and at 9 pm all have to leave. As you know Tings is a hotel where our guests have to sleep/relax after a long day of sight seeing At our last opening we arranged an after party. Maybe we will do that again
For many years I, Thomas Tingstrup, thought that the word John read when he climbed Yoko’s Art Installation (to see the small word Yoko had written on the ceiling above the ladder) at the Indica Gallery in London was “IMAGINE”. Actually I was so convinced that I lost a bet back in the late seventies – before the web gave you answers to all questions faster than fast.
Yoko could easily have written the word “IMAGINE” because, the word involves, not only a sense of positivism, but also curiosity, encouragement and, most importantly, it opens minds.
What has this anecdote got to do with our next exhibition? Well nothing really – except that John Lennon always springs to mind when my generation sees the word “IMAGINE”. And that curiosity, encouragement and openness were the feelings that hit me when I first saw an Imagine wall in Kathmandu.
I had to know more about the art and the person behind it. A couple of months later I met and worked with Imagine. Her contribution to the Prasad@Tings exhibition blew my mind. Not only her exceptional paintings, but also her energy, vision, ambition and, most of all, her international scope.
So can you now imagine how thrilling it was when we agreed on an “Imagine” exhibition at Tings?
And can you also imagine how much we are looking forward to the opening of our 9th and first solo show by a Nepalese Artist?
And best of all, can you imagine what a wonderful evening it will be?
I can – and if you have been to our previous Openings, I’m sure You Can Imagine Too. And when you are deciding whether or not to come, like Yoko, say “YES”
https://www.facebook.com/events/246692245503451/ More info here: http://imagineadtings.wordpress.com/about/