The root of thingsSculptor Narendra Prasad Shrestha’s solo exhibition, Dristikon, is a manifesto of a life devoted to arts
Artist Narendra Prasad Shrestha has an uncanny affinity with nature, an affinity that extends well beyond the mundane. In anything he does, he says, there is an equal part contribution of nature along with his own artistic impulses. “Nature has always blessed me with some transcendental tendencies,” he says.“It is more than just a mere coincidence that I find the themes I want to work on in driftwood. Nature and I collaborate close together; this is an unearthly bond.”
Shrestha, also a painter and poet, in his last painting exhibition, titled Solidarity that featured work of six artists, held in April this year, worked with an ambitious motif that revolved around, among others, the workings of the cosmos and global warming. The exhibit was extraordinary, infused with a unique theme and adept use of fabrics.
Shrestha’s solo exhibition of wood sculptures—titled Dristikon (Perspective: Seeking for meaning in the roots)—currently on at the Nepal Art Council (NAC), not only underscores this affinity with nature but also bears testament to a life devoted to the arts.
Occupying the span of the first floor of the NAC, the exhibit welcome viewers with an art piece titled Paani ra Jiwan (Water and Life) and draws a full circle with the piece Jeewan ko Antim Kshan (Life’s last moment). Almost all of Shrestha’s works are made from a single piece of wood.
In Paani ra Jeewan, we see three aquatic beings—the fabulous mermaid, a whale and a dolphin—all based on a rough, uneven, surface that serves as a metaphor for the sea. The mermaid and the dolphin are in the air, springing out of whale’s body, while the whale itself is based close to the surface. Blending the real and imaginary in one sculpture, the piece is an apt opening for the many musings the exhibit boasts. Jeewan ko Antim Kshan portrays the ultimate moment of truth of a human life.
A man lies in a tomb, while fire has enclosed him from all sides, turning his body parts, one by one, to ashes.
In between Paani ra Jeewan and Jeewan ko Antim Kshan, there are a total of 33 pieces of sculptures, that revolve around themes ranging from folklore and religion to unity and politics, love for animals and the Tandav dance, and earthquake and the erotic.
One of Shrestha’s pieces, Bamiyan Buddha, hearkens to the time when the Taliban destroyed age-old Buddha sculptures in remote Afghanistan. The piece, minimal in its design, with a forlorn Buddha standing upright, is more of a commemoration to the Buddhas of Bamiyan than it is a rebuttal to a heinous act of terrorism.
While in Bhabisyadrasta, Shrestha imagines a Nepali counterpart of Nostradamus, the famous French seer. Manchhe ko Haatma Nariwal is a tongue-in-cheek piece with an elevated theme, that hints at how we have failed as a human race. In the piece, one can see how the ape is mocking the human race.
Shrestha’s art, at its essence, speaks of the immanence of nature, and also about the nature of things.
Four decades in the making, the exhibition is a manifestation of an immensely talented artist’s evolution, and a compendium of themes he has worked through his lifetime.
The exhibit will continue through Sept 27.