If neighbourhoods can be said to have a personality, then Lazimpat of late acquired a rather artsy one.
This thin artery that runs past various embassies, VVIP residences and hotels has suddenly sprouted a number of interesting little galleries and caf?s, attracting a vastly different crowd from the usual visa penitents. The most recent, Gallery Nine, is different.
Nine creative Nepalis and one Korean got together one day and decided they needed a common space to grow, nurture and share: Manjushree Thapa, Viplob Pratik, Mani Lama, Sudarshan Karki, Deepak Thapa, Ashmina Ranjit, Basanta Thapa, Bandi Nima Sherpa, Tashijangbu Sherpa and Kim Hong Sung. All of them are art lovers and include painters, photographers, authors and even a poet-bound by a common love for art and literature.
Gallery Nine chose the environs of Snow Lion, a landmark Kathmandu hotel from the early days of tourism, to set up shop. They wanted a meeting place that welcomed artists, both old and new. "We want to exhibit everything that was neglected in the past by other galleries because a lot has to be done to promote Nepali art and literature," says poet Viplob Pratik.
Inaugurated in April 2003, Gallery Nine is already unique for showcasing the work of those who received neither opportunity nor encouragement. 'Art' here covers the entire spectrum from music to dramatic monologues. There is no fee for exhibitions, but the gallery does take a commission from all sales to cover overheads like the curator, caretaker and cleaner.
"There is a lot of great local talent here but they are shy to show their work," says ace photographer Mani Lama. Narendra Pradhan did a joint photo exhibition for the first time with his father and he was surprised by the reaction. "When they bought his pictures right off the wall, he realised his worth," says Lama. All nine agree this is the kind of impact that their gallery wants to make-talent that is respected and not wasted. "Each time you press that shutter is precious for a photographer, and if you don't share that moment with others, then it's your loss," says Lama, who is considered one of the best documentary-photographers in the kingdom.
Gallery Nine has a deliberately low profile. The owners are not publicity keen, fearing the spotlight could kill the intimacy, the real essence of their gallery. "All we want is to give it an aesthetic shape. Commercialising it will only turn this into an ordinary art gallery," says Pratik. The simplicity and low key ambience work , making it aesthetically pleasing without being antiseptic. Gallery Nine has a distinctly cosy-home vibe.
The team is now planning a caf? so that lovers of music, paintings, photographs, literature and films can slake their hunger for art and more corporeal sustenance in one place. At a time when other galleries are closing, the investors of Gallery Nine are in it for the long haul. If costs escalate they have already decided it's a price they are willing to pay for art's sake. "We will never close down," says a determined Pratik, who, like the other eight, earns a modest income and has invested his personal savings into the project.
In the past eight months, Gallery Nine has held about 18 exhibitions and is booked through January. An exhibitin of political cartoons by Batsayan has just concluded. Now, international artists are showing a keen interest in showing there. Korean photographer Kim Hong Sung's The Land I Love is exhibiting till 16 January. It will be followed by another Korean artist's calligraphy. "This is just the beginning, and while fulfilling the artists' needs we hope that those who come to Gallery Nine leave us with something special too," says Lama.
Open daily 11AM to 6PM, except Monday. Gallery Nine, 544 Narayan Gopal Sadak, Lazimpat 4428694 [email protected]