23-29 January #742

Picturing Kathmandu’s beat

A stimulating exhibition that struck a resonance with Kathmandu dwellers
Stéphane Huët

Finnish photographer Päivi Maria Wells (pic, right) uses hand-held camera motions and long exposure that etch light and textures to give a blurry effect to her pictures.

In Solitudes – Photographic reflections, Wells’ first solo exhibition held last May at Image Ark, she illustrated her childhood playgrounds- seashores and the forests in Finland- in an abstract way. The predominant grey tone of the series drew a melancholic atmosphere.

Wells’ second solo exhibition Pulse on display at the same gallery attempts to show life around Kathmandu Valley. It is the result of a two-year photographing process in Kathmandu.

“It was far from the quiet seashores where I used to find inspiration,” she says. “However, it forced me out into the world.”

The photographer considers this a unique experience. “Most photography I do is a continuous process that I carry with me,” she explains. “But Pulse had a beginning and an end as I knew I would be leaving Nepal.”

Wells’ distinctive touch is easily recognisable through these blurred pictures. But the colourful outlines of Kathmandu and human silhouettes are easily noticeable. This time, the abstract landscapes leave space to form a sequence of movements.

Pulse awakens all the senses as it forces one into (re)discovering Kathmandu. The long exposure gives the right impression that Kathmandu is constantly abuzz. The softness of the outlines remind us that the capital also has its moments of peace. The vivid colours show how overwhelming Nepal can be.

While staring at “Rainy Day” visitors can feel the flow of the streets, nearly hearing the vehicle horns and the ringing bells. On the other hand, “Prayer Flags” (pic, top) gives a soothing impression and “Boy” (pic, bottom) passes on much joy.

“The title Pulse was chosen as I attempted to capture the rhythm of the city: chaos, colours, the sounds and the non-stop,” explains the photographer.

Wells has done an ingenuous work putting her attentive eye on the country. Each picture of Pulse was taken after long and quiet period observing choks, squares and streets. When taking photographs she allowed her camera to move but let the life come to her rather than chase after it. Many a times she returned back with no photographs.

Another part of the exhibition is the display of a few wearable art pieces by Naila Sattar with prints of Wells’ pictures. “Päivi Maria Wells’ photography has a quality of luminosity and space,” says Sattar, “and I wanted to design a collection that reflected those qualities.”

Päivi Maria Wells’ Pulse is a stimulating exhibition, one that struck a resonance with Kathmandu dwellers.


Image Ark Gallery

Patan Darbar Square

Runs till 8 February

10AM to 5PM


Read also:

Illustrating struggles

Reimagining the everyday, Toh Ee Ming

Mustang Mural, Stéphane Huët

Keeping traditions alive, Stéphane Huët

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