Starting on the 30th of October, Nepal will host 'Separating myth from reality--status of women', its first international art festival. The four-day art extravaganza in Kathmandu will bring together over 100 artists from 24 countries to six venues, including Siddhartha Art Gallery and the Nepal Arts Council, and warrants a visit from all the denizens of this city. The uninitiated and curious need not fear, for there could not be a more fertile ground for an introduction to contemporary art. For artists and art lovers, this is a true festival of the creativity and culture through which we define our humanity.
Festival director Sangita Thapa expects the exhibition to firmly plant Nepal on the international art scene. She sees the festival as a means of introducing Nepal to the international art market while exposing Nepali artists and the Nepali people to the contemporary art that is being produced around the world. The festival highlights the myriad challenges women face in Nepal and abroad through the medium of the visual arts.
Modernity has brought about dramatic changes in the lives of women, nowhere more so than in Nepal. Women have to balance the pressures of modern life with their traditional roles. Although the 33% representation of women in the 2008 Constituent Assembly promises much, discrimination against women remains prevalent--cases of rape, murder, abduction and torture are still common. This paradox of women's lives--the reality and the myths of how women live--will be explored through the medium of paintings, drawings, installations and videos.
A lecture series will also run concurrently with the festival, addressing the themes of art, women and Nepal's contemporary art scene. These lectures will encourage debate and the sharing of ideas and experiences among local and international artists, and constitute an important educational component to the festival.
For Nepali art lovers, the festival is a unique opportunity to witness the breadth of Nepali art from the 1960s and 1970s onward. The works of 47 Nepali artists will be featured, from senior artists to recent graduates from Nepal's newest arts program at Kathmandu University. Art buyers should also take note of the signs of maturity manifest in the Nepali art market, for instance in the contracting of four Nepali artists by the Gaekwad Foundation and their sell out exhibition in Mumbai. The festival is a good opportunity for those interested in investing in art to identify future prospects. For the rest, it will be a sight for sore eyes.
Pranab Man Singh