Little things in lifeBhuwan Thapa Bahuvi’s solo sculpture exhibition, Self-realization, urges one to appreciate the mundane things in life
Two slices of wood hung up one over the another, on a slope, or a carved log with a hook at one end or a plain log with a flat curve at its ends—the artwork on display at Bhuwan Thapa Bahuvi’s ongoing solo sculpture exhibition, Self-realization, are minimal in design and are mostly the replicas of things that we happen to stumble upon in our daily lives—objects which we seldom care to look at and, more often than not, just plainly overlook.
The exhibit boasts the things that we identify with but then also things we are baffled by. For instance: the aforementioned plain log with a flat curve at one end. Pat yourself on the back if this particular piece of art strikes you as anything more than a hockey stick. Regarding this particular piece of art, Thapa, who is also a faculty member at the Kathmandu University of Fine Arts, was once questioned by one of his students. “What is this all about?
I see nothing about or around it.” Overcome with a sudden whimsy, Thapa replied, “What is it not about?” The student looked on, dazed. Thapa went on: “It is about greed, it is about lust, it is about obsession.” Touching this particular piece of art, hung on the ceiling at Nepal Art Council’s first floor, Thapa confided to me in his thick baritone, “It also looks like the tongue of a lusty bull”, and chuckled, which he often does when an observer offers him with an interpretation on any of his artwork.
When we go about living we often don’t care or have the time to ponder on the little things that we stumble upon. What would you think about when you see a radio now? Obviously, it is sure to evoke a feeling of nostalgia. Thapa’s artwork has that power. The myriad shapes, when you look close enough, are sure to send an avalanche of emotions hurling through you. For example, the fishing hook: It took me back to my childhood and then as I completed a round and took a peek at it once again, it reminded me of the old man in The Old Man in the Sea, which I’d read a while ago— another champion of celebrating little things in life.
When Thapa goes about creating an artwork, he first looks around and then inside himself. There are two ways in which Thapa goes about churning out art. Either he sees the source material (he also works with stone) and realises he can give it a shape he desires. Or, he plays with a definite shape in his mind for a while, draws the shape and then he goes about finding the material that would serve him. Thapa’s works are no game changers, do not have a particular theme, and are not even informative in the least. “I construct what I see, that is all. The current exhibition is the outcome of my past, my present, with my imagination included, and the prospects of future,” says Thapa. On display at the exhibition are some of the most mundane things you can think of. There is an apple, half-cut. There is a collection of brick-like substances stacked one upon another. There are two bricks entwined with a sun and a moon carved into them, our national emblems. Looking at the work, created almost entirely after the quakes rattled the country, one can guess Thapa’s motives—particularly with the recurring themes playing with bricks. And then there are a pair of footprints. The footprint is strange for it is entangled within itself. It can move sideways but not forwards or backwards.
The exhibition constitutes these little things that, however we may neglect, matter. The artworks are the reflections of what the artist saw during his course of life and managed to find a lasting impression in his mind. In other words, these are pieces that made the artist realise the beauty around him and to connect that beauty to himself. Hence, honest, the artist has titled the current exhibit Self-realization.
The artworks on display may be minimal in their forms but are maximum in their effect.
The exhibition will run through Saturday, April 8.