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Three decades under one roof

Monday, January 14th, 2013
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Tucked away in Pulchok in a little street unremarkable at first glance lies an art gallery dedicated to preserving Nepal’s artistic heritage. Set up by artist Rama Nanda Joshi in 1970 in Ratna Park, from where the Gallery derived its name, it relocated to Lalitpur in 1975.

Neera Joshi, botanical artist and curator of the gallery, is responsible for setting up the exhibition.

Neera Joshi, botanical artist and curator of the gallery, is responsible for setting up the exhibition. Photo: Cindrey Liu

Today the Gallery is run by Joshi’s daughter, Neera who is an accomplished artist herself. “When you love art, you want to promote it and support other artists,” says Neera.

The Park Gallery is hosting an exhibition on Nepali modern art until 31 January displaying exhibits from the sixties, seventies, and eighties. The gallery’s exhibits are arranged in chronological order, with art work from the 60s lined up closest to the entrance. A walk further inside reveals how the artist’s work evolved over time through the 70s.

“The 1960s were a turning point in Nepali art,” explains Navin Joshi, a designer by trade who assists his sister Neera at the gallery, “Uttam Nepali, Sashi Shah, Vijaya Thapa, Indra Pradhan and my father who are the pioneers of modern art in the country went to Mumbai and Lucknow to study and bought back a lot of new influences.”

The first floor of the exhibition on Nepali modern art.  Photo: Cindrey Liu.

The first floor of the exhibition on Nepali modern art. Photo: Cindrey Liu.

A staircase leads to the upper level, where the works of the 1980s artists are collected. One example is KK Karmacharya’s contribution, a collage comprised of many different materials which stand out among the traditional oil paintings.

“These are the works of what we call the second generation artists, who were influenced by the first pioneers and later developed their own unique style,” explains Navin pointing to the work from the 80s.

As the founder of the gallery, RN Joshi’s works are most prominently featured. Each of his paintings seems to serve a specific purpose. A large painting of a woman brushing her hair while a crow perches on a window is a reference to an old Newari folk tale, reflecting the artist’s desire to preserve oral traditions through his art. His later works focused on documenting everyday life around him, such as the Rato Matchendra festival which takes place in Pulchok every year.

Artist and writer Saroj Bajracharya feels exhibitions like this will help educate the public.

Artist and writer Saroj Bajracharya feels exhibitions like this will help educate the public. Photo: Cindrey Liu.

Artist and writer Saroj Bajracharya , who moderated a discussion held at the gallery on Sunday believes the exhibition is a good way to understand the background and history of Nepal’s art scene. “We need to get more Nepalis to come see art work and projects,” he says, “and educating the public through exhibitions such as this one is a good first step.”

Among the visitors to the exhibition was 16-year-old Dhiraj Bayelkoti, a student of fine art at Bijeshwori Secondary School. “I think it’s a good exhibition. I’m interested to hear what Bajracharya has to say about the paintings here,” he said.

To encourage school’s to promote art, students have free access to Park Gallery. If the gallery can continue to inspire students like Dhiraj, Nepal’s art scene is in for some exciting times.

www.parkgallery.com.np

Emergence of Nepali Modern Art: 1960-80
9-31 January, 10.30am to 5.30pm
Park Gallery, Pulchok

Sulaiman Daud

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