Nepali Art In A Verse Of Transition

Manish Lal Shrestha

People are always so curious about everything that they see around, hear around, and feel around and of course such mainstream matters. But somewhere everyone needs benefit out of all economically, emotionally, physically, and so forth psychologically. In the context of Nepali Art, there are so many questions to be raised. Who will think that the art as the matter of prestige? How can it be possible where there are finger count art publications, which are not even locally circulated? Artists are only the audiences of the artists. Thus, we need to be the promoters or collectors by self to sustain for a long run.

After years of my creative extravaganzas, till today we are not able to gain good number of responsive generation. Though there’s fuel hikes, unnatural increment on basic subsidiaries like foods and daily needed stuffs, Nepal is not responding but if it comes with party politics or seats they come and jump on the road. As we compare to India, adorn maestro painter M F Husain who recently died in London created a huge receptive age group through his art works. I still remember those times when I was studying in Sir J.J. School of Art; our Senior Artist Jitish Kallat led us to go against the burning protest for the freedom of artist’s expression. All the artists in Mumbai including me tied up with black bands on the arm silently walking on the street. This was the learning norms but still India never made Husain to return to his home land. It is not my criticism to our neighboring country who has given me a verse to understand art and grow with practical norms; I literally hook up to these facts.       

When can we find Shiromanis in fine arts and who will be the one? But we celebrate in Nepali literature with various titles. Though we have prestigious Arniko Award but also split into two artists. Selection is not done with nominations but artists need to send recommendations from various norms. Is the government having experts to research on to find someone within our small community? Another celebrated Ratriya Prativa Puraskar has also same bureaucratic agenda. It is understood that our country is rich in traditional cultures but still publication is far lack behind. How can it be flourished if it is not restored or transfer to generations and generations? Near my home atelier in Chyasal just a day before Indra Jatra, they celebrate Samya Baji (beaten rice with mixtures of vegetable and meat items) and show Jhyalcha (shadow movie) on the antique window. Back then it was a traditional handmade movie but till today thousands of local audiences visit to watch. I don’t think so it is well documented in written form.

Whole country is in the verse of transition without constitution and we are hiring these actors for nothing. We hope for new Prime Minister but till when, we still need to check. Opposition will come and rag them with no issues. This is so called nuisance politics which shouldn’t be affecting to our artists circle but it is again dragging into. Among the contemporary artists community, all have got the introvert expertise they hear their own songs and enjoys oneself thoroughly. Hidden agonies, hidden voices, hidden prolific spectrum are all but hidden within the small boundary. Question often rises about the quality of creativity. Why many institutions arrange one day workshops for the artists?  I admit not to be the part of it because it ruins the mechanism of practice and at the same time it never fulfills the degree of emotional milieu. But it is good purpose for socializing. As we see the value of the painting created within a day event worth more than per day salary of Mr. President I suppose. Creation is impossible within an hour; it is like giving birth to a child. But more often artist forgets these facts. How can we make a real proof for our audiences in terms of value? For me thought process should be groomed and polished through and from like how we germinate the seed till the flower to blossom. Artists need to be quality conscious to create in terms of knowledge, technicality, durability or in terms of time value. The determination and dedication really put the value, and again emotional attachment correctly measures the true worth.

I usually hum the line of the song “A Hard Day’s Night” by the Beatles “working like a dog and sleeping like a log” motivates me to be workaholic but more thoughtfully. To create a vision it takes times and to turn that vision into reality it take another times. To be an artist, one needs to know how to manage life; I think this is nowhere taught in the art institutions. In this 21st century, the artist is not necessary to be martyrs like the great artist Vincent Van Gogh. I totally agree on how Laxman Shrestha, Damien Hirst, Anish Kapoor, Ai Weiwei and Rashid Rana systematically achieving their greater height within their life time. The artist should be like the CEO of banks who can strategically arrange, collaborate and think of communal growth. The artist is not a one man army. But in the context of Nepali art scene, the artist should be all in one who need to promote, organize and create self.

Once I was very much influenced with the verse from the movie Spider-Man I “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”. But powerful portions are unable to know the meaning of responsibility. That makes sense but living like the Spider- Man alone even can’t lead the world. To grow we need collective growth.  Artists need to be more responsible for art.  Other system won’t even think of growing it voluntarily. It is only possible through the bonding harmony between each other. All the unconscious errors need to be erased to create a colorful history. However with all these hooks and nooks we need to build up the environment to create art as mainstream expression.

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