Siddhartha turns 20Siddhartha turns 20Soshana first came to Nepal in 1957, and we can only imagine what her artist eyes saw here. An emerald valley with green terrace fields, the russet tile and brick towns of Patan and Bhaktapur perched on ridges under azure Himalayan skies.
Soshana is now 80, a celebrated Austrian artist and contemporary of Picasso, Albert Giacometi, Mark Rothko and Rufino Tomaya. Her paintings have been collected by private museums and institutions along with private collectors such as Baron Rothschild, Jean Paul Sartre, the Guggenheims and the Hirshorn family.
"We are celebrating our 20th anniversary and the 50 years since Soshana came to Kathmandu," says Sangeeta Thapa of Siddhartha At Gallery, "it is a very prestigious venture for a private gallery like ours."
Soshana herself will not be able to travel to Kathmandu, but said in a recent interview: "When I was in India in 1957 I decided it was time to go to Kathmandu. I have not encountered such hospitality anywhere else in the whole world. I also went to Pokhara which was very quiet, serene and beautiful. I felt like staying on in Nepal."
Soshana also met Lain Bangdel in Paris, but it was her art dealer in Zurich who suggested that she visit Nepal. Soshana went on to China and says Chinese art influenced her to paint figuratively.
Soshana was born in Vienna in 1927, and was already famous in the 1950s with her works exhibited worldwide. It was in Paris that Picasso discovered her in the Salon de Mai. She travelled a lot and exposure to various cultures inspired Soshana's visual worlds.
Soshana's visual language expresses her inner feelings. She refers to current problems of our time and puts them passionately on an equal footing with Chinese lacquer work or sacral architecture.
The Soshana exhibition is also being shown in Vienna, Montreal, New York, Chicago and Zurich in the coming months.
30 September-20 October
Siddhartha Art Gallery, Babaer Mahal Revisited
Siddhartha turns 20
Siddhartha Art Gallery celebrates its 20th anniversary by staging an exhibition this week of the works of the Austrian artist and Picasso contemporary, Soshana.
"It is fitting that we have such an important exhibition to celebrate our two decades of existence," says Sangeeta Thapa who set up Siddhartha Art Galley with Shashikala Tiwari in 1987. Indeed, Siddhartha has strived to be a contemporary art space and meeting point for artists from Nepal and abroad.
Located at the Baber Mahal Revisited, itself a renowned heritage conservation site, the gallery has attempted to introduce international perspectives in art to the Kathmandu community.
Artists from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Japan, China along with Tibet, Korea, Australia, France, Belgium, Austria, Holland, Germany, Britain, Finland, the US and many Nepalis have held a total of 253 exhibitions here.
Some landmark events have been exhibitions of Amar Chitrakar, Karna Narsingh Rana, Shashikala Tiwari, Ragini Upadhya-Grela, Uttam Nepali, Shashi Shah and Tej Bahadur Chitrakar. 'Celebrating Line' was the first ever exhibition of drawings in Nepal, there was a powerful anti-conflict exhibition by Durga Baral and an exhibition by the celebrated Bombay-based artist Laxman Shrestha. The gallery has also organised exhibitions of Nepali artists in India and in Pakistan.
The gallery is presently working with GTZ on its third community art project 'Whose City Is This?' with more than 100 poets examining urban issues.
"We believe that culture is an important component of development," says Thapa. "We do this by investing in creativity."