When even two is a crowdWith two different exhibitions—Young Artists Show and Woodcut Printmaking Show—Gallery Mcube is currently displaying impactful, diverse works of 42 artists. But the showcasing of so many works can become overwhelming for the viewer.
‘Medium is the message.’
Six decades ago, Marshall McLuhan, a communication theorist, had developed this theory arguing that the medium through which a message is conveyed plays a significant role in how a message is delivered.
It’s not only about what the communicator is intending to say. It’s also about the medium they use, as it’s the channel of the communication that shapes the message, he argued.
For the layperson, McLuhan’s concept can be vague. But when one looks at Hitesh Vaidya’s artwork ‘Changing landscapes’, his theory can become more clear, as Vaidya, as an artist, has done exactly what he said. He makes his medium of art his message.
Displayed in the premises of Gallery Mcube, Vadiya’s excellent artworks are a part of ‘Young Artists Show’ organised by the gallery.
While the ground floor of the gallery displays artworks of 11 young, energetic artists like Vaidya, who have started to make their presence felt in the Nepali art world, on the first floor of the gallery is another art exhibition, ‘Woodcut Printmaking Show’, which showcases artworks of 31 artists, who are studying at Lalitkala Campus and Srijana School of Arts.
And even in such diversity and variety, it’s Vaidya whose artwork is able to make the most impact, as, unlike other artists, both the message and the medium he uses to convey what he wants is intriguing and impactful.
In his artworks, which are exhibited in the exhibition, Vaidya uses two mediums to depict his memories of his hometown, Bhaktapur, which was once free and untouched from urbanisation: a watercolour painting on archival paper, and a brick-art, made from acrylic colours.
As time passed, the open spaces, the houses made from the old red bricks, were replaced. Now in his hometown, there’s hardly any open space left and concrete buildings are being constructed every day. Although it’s difficult to alter this change, for Vaidya, his heart still aches for the old rusty Bhaktapur, whose fond memories are still alive in his mind.
While the message he tries to convey is heartfelt, which many of us can relate to, what becomes important is the medium, he uses. In his artwork, the bricks either become a motif or a medium through which he depicts the changing landscape of the city.
In the paintings, he uses bricks as a metaphor for how they have replaced the originality of the city, as it’s the new bricks (new buildings) that have replaced the old bricks (old buildings). Whereas in the brick-art, where he juxtaposes the painting of the landscape of the city, he uses the brick as a medium to signify the change and to add an element of rawness, which the old city represented. And by doing this, he uses the medium, here in case, the brick, as a way to convey his message, rather than just painting the contrasting landscape, elevating the impact of his artwork.
Like Vaidya, Sara Tunich Koich is also another artist in the exhibition who has made efforts to depict the ever-changing landscape caused by urbanisation through her works. However, unlike Vaidya, Sara’s paintings are different as she shows the merging of both old and new worlds.
In her two paintings which are titled, ‘Urbanizing Cultural Values I and II’, she has painted four people who seem to be walking. In one painting, there’s a man, who’s holding the hands of a boy, who can be assumed as his son. Meanwhile, in another painting, there’s a woman who’s also holding the hands of a girl, who can be assumed to be her daughter. It feels like all of them, who are wearing traditional attires, are trying to enter into the city, as within the painting, a structure of a city, is juxtaposed.
And hence the placement of the motifs becomes symbolic as, through the colourful painting, Koich might be trying to depict the migration of people living in rural areas, who at the beginning without shedding their roots, enter the city.
Meanwhile, another striking noticeable element in the paintings is that the city isn’t colourful, unlike the patterns that surround it as well as the subject. Maybe through this difference, Koinch might be attempting to showcase how urbanisation has shredded the vibrancy of the city.
On the other hand, Samyukta Bhandari’s visual artwork is also intriguing but lacks enough substance to leave an impression, as her artwork is confusing. Unlike other artists, she uses the medium of video. In the video, we can see small images of a local man from Dolpo, footage that was recorded in 1966. Along with the video, there’s also a sound of a brawl that took place in the Nepali parliament in 2015, juxtaposed with the images.
Although Bhandari in her statement, writes that the artwork is open for interpretation, it would have been great to know what she wanted to depict or show, as it’s equally engaging and interesting to know what goes behind an artist’s mind, when they create something.
The only interpretation that I was able to draw is that she might be trying to compare the two emotions: one of an indigenous person, living in a remote area, who’s always neglected, and one of the powerful people, who are in control of everything.
Through her artwork, she might be showing the contrast between the two voices: one of someone, whose voice has been deliberately silenced, and one whose voice, even when its noise is tolerated because of their position in society.
But not every artwork is difficult to comprehend. A few artists are clear of what they want to depict, and even if their theme is simple, they are able to make an impression.
For instance, Sujaan Shrestha’s ‘Unfinished Transaction’ is an emotionally evocative artwork, even though the theme of her work is simple. In the artwork, Shrestha captures images of a funeral ritual. The images are powerful as through the help of colours, she is able to create a sense of melancholy, among the minds of those who will watch her artwork.
While not all the artworks are equally powerful in the exhibition, there’s at least information attached in the form of art statements that can help the viewers understand the artworks as well as the artists better.
However on the first floor, in another exhibition ‘Woodcut Printmaking Show’, which is curated by the founder of the gallery, Manish Lal Shrestha, along with another artist, Saurganga Dashandhari, who served as the coordinator, there’s no information regarding what the artist is trying to show, except the title and the name of the artist.
And this takes away the experience of enjoying the artworks, created by upcoming artists, who might have great potential, as it feels like the artworks are just placed on the wall for the sake of differentiating it as another exhibition, with no focus given by the gallery on how to make it engaging.
But even besides that, a few artworks do stand. For instance, Narendra Malla’s ‘Masks and the Boy’ and Rojan Khadka’s ‘Into the World of Starry Night’ are visually engaging because of the vibrant colours used in the artworks.
Bishal Manandhar’s ‘Sweet Honey’ is also poignant, as through the artwork he tries to depict the declining population of bees. In the painting, juxtaposed along with the yellow background, bees are flying in the air. But as the pollution has reached its height, the bees are wearing a gas mask, and it feels like they are so weak, they will fall down.
When even organising one exhibition is a herculean task, the gallery has organised two different exhibitions, and just for that, the gallery deserves applause. However, since there are too many artworks of more than 42 artists crammed into a limited space, it’s difficult to get an immersive experience.
Sometimes, less can be more.
The exhibition will be held until April 20 at Gallery Mcube, Chakupat.