Blessed Wonders blesses audience with artists who haven’t gotten their due yetThe online exhibition, organised by Tehra, features 52 artworks of 30 artists.
Wrinkled face, salt and pepper hair and watery eyes, the portrait of an old woman speaks so much without the use of any words or action. There are emotions of sadness, loneliness, and despair, all depicted within one frame, from where she is gazing at the camera, resting her head.
Titled ‘The Old Gaze’, the photo by Dibesh Shrestha is one among the 52 artworks that are exhibited in the online exhibition, 'Blessed Wonders', organised by Tehra, a social initiative run by young artists.
Although the works of 30 artists that are displayed in the exhibition offer a variety of art forms, it’s mostly the photographs that have gotten more space in the exhibition, allowing the viewers to be deeply immersed in reading and analysing the visuals.
One such immersive artwork is Shrestha’s, who through his photograph successfully tells a personal story that is deeply engaging and evocative at the same time. In the frame, he has captured an old woman, who’s just resting her head down. The woman is gazing at the camera, which is played at an eye-to-eye level. There’s nothing more than that in the picture, yet the image is powerful, as though through her placement, and the photo, we know so much about her and her story.
Another equally evocative photo that emotes exactly what the subject is feeling as well as tells their story is ‘Life to Feed’, by Sulav Singh Dangol. The photo, although cannot necessarily be categorised as a portrait in terms of technicalities, acts just like a portrait, as it is successful in efficiently conveying the mood and emotions of the subject like portraits do.
In the photo, we see a family of vegetable vendors, who are sitting outside a shop, with baskets of vegetables displayed for the customers. The man, the vegetable seller, is sitting beside the taraju, a traditional weighing machine. The woman, who’s most likely his wife, is sitting at the corner, with a basket of potatoes, on her side, while their child is in the middle, with vegetables in front of them. Shot at night, there’s nothing more than these elements in the photos, yet we know so much about the subjects, due to the placement as well as the photographer’s ability to capture their emotional state reflected on their faces.
The man has a tensed look on his face, which may be because of the responsibilities he has to fulfill, which can’t be possible to fulfill if he doesn’t sell the vegetables he has. The child in the photo looks anxious, as through their face, the audience can understand that they aren’t interested in staying at the shop. For someone their age, it’s playing that only matters, and it looks like they are just waiting for the opportunity to run and play with their friends. As for the woman, she is looking at her husband, which somehow also reflects the position of most of the women, like her in our society, who are just made to look after their husbands.
Although the placement of the basket of potato on the side of the women, maybe accidental, the placement rather serves as a motif, to reflect women’s status by comparing her to the vegetable, which although is one of the essential food items in the vegetable family still doesn’t receive it due worth.
Besides photos that depict human stories, there are some photos in the exhibition where the beauty of various landscapes and geographical places are also captured in the frame.
One such photo is of fashion photographer Aayush Shrestha, which is one of the highlights of the exhibition as well. Titled ‘Ghorepani’, Shrestha, in his photo, beautifully depicts the snow-covered trails of Ghorepani, a burgeoning trekking trail whose beauty in recent years has been drawing the attention of many visitors.
What makes the photo stand out is that it not only looks aesthetically beautiful—as it literally looks like a painting—but is also equally sound in terms of technicalities. Although snow is of white colour, generally when it comes to a large amount of snow, particularly in shade, it appears blue. And Shrestha, through his camera, captures this beautifully. Likewise, the blue colour tone also makes the landscape look serene and creates a calming effect, increasing its impact.
Another thing that should be appreciated is also how he uses the point of interest in the composition of the photo. Although the snow already beautifies the photo, he emphasises on the porters, who are carrying the heavy loads in the trail as well, and the hues of the red colour-plastic that they have worn, which adds a splash of colour in the photo.
Another photo that stands out in the exhibition is Sushila Gurung’s ‘Together in Rain & Shine’.
Although what Gurung tries to depict in her photo is not something new, as many photographers have depicted sexual intercourse of various animals in pictures, Gurung’s treatment of the subject matter is commendable. In the photo, two frogs are having sexual intercourse. It’s raining outside, but the downpour has the least effect on them. Likewise, even though the frogs are in their natural habitat, the photo is captured in such a way that it feels that there is a backdrop beside them, and they are performing in a staged manner, increasing the impact, as it gracefully depicts sex in a sensuous and dignified manner.
But there are few artworks, which fail to create any impact or evoke emotions, mostly either by being too simple or using the same old archetype or motifs in the artworks. For instance, Kripa Shakya’s ‘River of the Evening Sky’ is too simple, as there’s nothing new her photo offers to the viewers. In the photo, she has captured the sky, which in the evening slowly changes its colour, when the sun starts to set.
Likewise, Nirvita Shakya’s ‘Intimacy’ looks like an interesting piece of artwork, as she uses textiles (pieces of cloths) which are in human shape to depict the intimacy between the human beings, but it uses the same old long-established motifs of using colours to depict the gender of people and that does not really work. In the artwork, the blue colour cloth, which is slightly bigger, is used to depict the man, whereas the pink colour cloth represents the woman.
There’s no denying the fact that her work is unique, as the placement successfully depicts what she is intending to do with her artwork—depict the affinity and warmth received because of the intimacy of another person, however using the same old colour motifs—blue to denote men, and pink to denote women, makes her artwork, a conventional one as well as layered with the sub-text of cisgender heteronormativity.
Maybe the use of other colours, or trying to depict ‘intimacy’ between people rather than making it a gender thing that exists between man and woman only would have made the art more valuable, as it would have been successful to depict the changing times, where intimacy should be looked beyond the cisgender lens.
Regardless, most of the artworks, especially the photographs in the exhibition, are novel, aesthetically pleasing as well as technically sound, making the exhibition a great platform for various artists to show their caliber.
Likewise, the curator’s decision of not including much details about the art works for this exhibition, as it’s much more interesting and engaging to draw meanings and interpretations from photos and artworks by oneself, instead of getting spoon-fed the artist’s intention every time.
This was the first-ever exhibition of the curators, and to be honest they have set the bar really high, raising expectations among art lovers that young aspiring curators/artists will make meaningful changes in the art scene of the country, which although has excelled in terms of craft, still hasn’t received enough exposure in the international market.
Here’s the link to the exhibition https://www.tehrafamily.com/post/blessed-wonders-1 fbclid=IwAR2kBRwbDlni0gdfwY5kse8e5Dt7HNZ2be1Xdg2aVCgbUIJUltehJX-kLtg