18-24 January 2013 #639

Straight from the art

The brother and sister duo Nira and Navin Joshi of Park Gallery spoke to Nepali Times this week about current trends and the future of Nepali art

Nepali Times: How is modern art different than traditional art?

Navin: Traditional artists work with religious icons and use certain set techniques, whereas modern art is primarily about individual expression.

How far can an artist use his freedom of expression?

Navin: Freedom of expression is important, but Nepali artists are still members of society and have to respect its norms and values.

How do you view the Nepali public’s interest and understanding of local art?

Nira: Some people are interested while others see it as just a luxury. And there is still a lack of understanding, but it makes me happy to see the audience gradually warming up and becoming more appreciative.

Navin: Today anybody can use Google to get a basic sense of art history. But I wish universities and art institutes made a greater effort to teach students the roots of Nepali art, how it has evolved in the last 200 years, and where it gets its influences from. Like Nira said a nuanced understanding of our own art history is missing.

What are your impressions of the new generation of Nepali artists?

Nira: Younger Nepali artists are not afraid to express themselves through different mediums like performance art, videos, and photography. I think greater exposure to the international art scene through travel and education has made them more confident.

Navin: It’s also heartening to see that families today are much more supportive of their children’s interest in art than say 10 or 15 years ago. When you are a young aspiring artist, you need a strong support system to succeed.

Any advice?

Navin: There is a famous quote by Picasso that says ‘It’s easy to become an artist, but it’s difficult to remain an artist.’ They have to be remain focused even during the tough times and just keep working hard.

Nira: They should be aware of why they want to create art and what made them enter the profession in the first place, and have their hearts in the right place.