When great artists meet a great curatorCurated by Shivangi Bansal of Danfe Arts, ‘Where Do We Go From Here’ is a well-curated exhibition displaying the fine works of four talented artists.
Rich or poor. Young or old. Death comes to all of us. That is an undeniable truth of life.
While the idea of death is something that we don’t like to ponder on, Sanod Maharjan’s artwork ‘Aryaghat’ takes us exactly to that reality, making us feel both sad and aware of how precious our life is.
Curated by Shivangi Bansal of Danfe Arts, Maharjan’s deep and poignant artwork is part of the ongoing exhibition ‘Where Do We Go From Here’, which is currently being held in the premises of Jalpa Coffee Club near Arun Thapa Chowk.
Based on the theme of how ephemeral and homogenous our lives are due to the uncertain nature of the world, the exhibition, besides Maharjan’s works, displays the works of other artists like Bhavika Dugar, James Khati and Madan Shrestha, whose works are equally appealing. Each artist has used different mediums to reflect their feelings, ideas, and perspectives about the ephemeral nature of time and how they seek peace and tranquillity in simple and mundane objects.
In the corner of the ground floor, a space is dedicated to Maharjan’s series, which is based on his deep affection for two rivers: the Tistung and the Bagmati.
“This series of work is a depiction of different conversations I have had with the rivers of Tistung and Bagmati,” writes Maharjan in his statement.
His words stand true because, in all of his art, it feels like he has exactly encapsulated the thoughts and feelings he had felt when he was present near the rivers.
But that’s not the only beauty of his art. Maharjan has also meticulously painted the multifaceted nature of the rivers, whose meaning and value can vary for people, and when one looks at his art, they are transported to the images he creates.
For instance, in ‘Aryaghat’, he takes the viewers to the banks of the Bagmati river, near Pashupati Temple, where dead bodies are cremated. The scene is difficult for any person to witness and when one looks at the artwork, they feel the air of melancholy surrounding them, transporting them to the real-life location.
His other artwork, ‘Thapathali I’, is equally engaging. When looking at the picture, it feels like the painting is reeking of the bad odour that one is likely to smell while they pass the Bagmati bridge near Thapathali. This reflects his calibre as an artist, as he successfully transports viewers into a different reality through his works.
Meanwhile, on the ground floor are Bhavika Dugar’s works on display. Through an intriguing medium of carborundum mezzotype and lithography, the artist expresses her deep connection to Patan, a place that she is fond of.
In her statement, which is just kept to her art series, Landmarking Kasthamandap, she mentions that just after she felt safe to go outside during the pandemic the first place she visited was Patan.
The narrow alleys, the buildings and monuments, which carry years of history, and the vibrancy and chaos of the city, is something she is fond of and in her process of admiring and getting enchanted by the beauty of the city, it can be assumed that she has found peace within and has also emerged herself with the city.
And hence in her work, along with depicting the city’s diverse architecture, she has juxtaposed various elements and motifs that represent her feelings and emotions, giving an insight to viewers about how closely attached she is with the city.
For instance in her art ‘Landmarking Kasthamandap V’ and ‘Landmarking Kasthamandap VI’, she has used the motif of birds, which according to her is a way of reflecting the unrestrained feelings she felt after the lockdown. The juxtaposition in her work hence becomes symbolic, as she not only displays the delightful experience of feeling free after the lockdown was uplifted, but she also uses the elements of real-life space, like how in real-life birds are usually flying around the temples of Patan, which in many ways, is her way of dedicating her craft for the love of the city.
Just next to Dugar’s work, Shrestha’s series ‘Trespassing’ is displayed which were specifically made for the exhibition.
Using acrylic on canvas, Shrestha’s theme isn’t extraordinary or something we haven’t seen before. In the work, he has painted ordinary men and women. However, these men and women have their own stories and in those stories, they are the heroes, the central character. They have their own tales of struggles, hope, resilience and it’s unfair to ignore or discredit their hardship.
Observing such ordinary people through his eyes, Shrestha has painted the whole series, depicting them. We get to see paintings of women washing clothes, a sadhu resting on the road, a woman holding a ghagri (water pot) and many more images of normal people, whom we have seen many times. However, in these images, the eyes and other facial features of the subjects aren’t defined well, to assert the artist’s point that these people can be anyone.
And that’s why his art becomes poignant even though it’s something that we have seen before, as, through his craft, he succeeds in depicting the lives of regular people who are fighting their own battles but don’t get acknowledged. Similarly, since the works go perfectly with the theme of the exhibition, their presence also adds value in elevating the overall experience of the exhibition.
Meanwhile, on the first floor, the whole space is dedicated to Khati’s work. Unlike other artists, Khati’s work is fascinating, as he has used different mediums from acrylic colours to mixed media to metal.
In his artwork ‘Play me a song (Triptych)’, Khati has painted a piano. Juxtaposed along the blue walls, there’s also a chair in front of the artwork, and when one sits there it feels like they are the one playing the keys. There’s also background music playing, which completely uplifts the experience of watching his artwork.
But it’s his mixed media artwork ‘And she soared into the teal clouds’ that is most impactful and poignant. The artwork made from metal, which resembles a paper plane, is hanging in mid-air, above a support system on the surface of the floor. Meanwhile, some letters are also pasted on different parts of the artwork.
Recreating an object, a paper plane that many have deep and lovely memories attached to itself, is emotionally appealing and to add to that the artwork is made from metal just increases the impact of the artwork.
To be honest, it’s difficult to pinpoint any flaws in the exhibition. From statements of the artists to the placement of the art, to even showcasing the process of how these creations were made, everything is taken care of, making this exhibition one of the finest of the latest times, even if it features works of a few artists.
And for the excellence of the exhibition, besides the artists, the curator, Bansal, also deserves equal praise. She has put in effort to make each artwork stand out on its own, taking care of everything, from the placement of the works to even giving credit to all those people involved in the exhibition, by displaying their names on the poster of the exhibition.
Maybe this exhibition can help both Nepali artists and curators to learn that you don’t need only good artists, you also really need a good curator to make an art exhibition impactful.