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Agrajka Bimbaharu: Veteran artists of Nepal take you to the past at this exhibition

Shyam Lal Shrestha's painting exhibited during Agrajka Bimbaharu, in Kathmandu, June 2022. Photo: Sangita Shrestha
Shyam Lal Shrestha’s painting exhibited during Agrajka Bimbaharu, in Kathmandu, June 2022. Photo: Sangita Shrestha

When Animesh Singh, a 12th-grader recently visited the ongoing art exhibition, Agrajka Bimbaharu, he felt a sense of déjà vu.

“Growing up in the Kathmandu valley, I have heard that people would go to fetch water at stone spouts, wash their clothes and do other things. But, that was only in my imagination,” he says, “However, seeing those activities in the form of art in artist Shyam Lal Shrestha’s painting has helped me confirm my imagination and explore the past heritage of local people.”

At the exhibition ongoing at Nepal Art Council, Babermahal, Shrestha’s painting with oil on canvas shows four women in traditional Newa attires, busy doing their chores at the stone tap. He has used hues like green, yellow, blue, white and black in an abstract cubic form.

“I am originally from India, but I have been living here since I was five years old. The exhibition has helped me understand the culture of Newa people,” shares Singh.

Organised by Pagoda Group and the Sushil Koirala Memorial Foundation, Agrajka Bimbaharu began on May 31. The title of the exhibition is apt as the seven-day exhibition features artworks created during the 1960s and ’70s till now.

A variety from the veterans

Agrajka Bimbaharu, an art exhibition in Kathmandu in June 2022. Photo: Aryan Dhimal
Agrajka Bimbaharu, an art exhibition in Kathmandu in June 2022. Photo: Aryan Dhimal

Agrajka Bimbaharu has a display of paintings, sculptures and more by veteran contemporary Nepali artists. Most of the artists have used religious motifs to show the rich natural and cultural heritage of Nepal in realistic and abstract forms.

The organisers have showcased 68 paintings by 30 veteran artists in the exhibition, making it one of a kind exhibition as their works are rarely exhibited, which aims to honour these artists.

Late artist Tej Bahadur Chitrakar’s painting titled Bajrabarahi Shrine using oil on canvas in a realistic form is one of such paintings featured in the exhibition for the first time.

Late artist Tej Bahadur Chitrakar's painting Bajrabarahi Shrine, exhibited at Agrajka Bimbaharu, an art exhibition, in Kathmandu, in June 2022. Photo: Sangita Shrestha
Late artist Tej Bahadur Chitrakar’s painting Bajrabarahi Shrine, exhibited at Agrajka Bimbaharu, an art exhibition, in Kathmandu, in June 2022. Photo: Sangita Shrestha

As you enter the gallery, the first thing you will see is the paintings of late prominent artists—Tej Bahadur Chitrakar, Lain Singh Bangdel, Manuj Babu Mishra, Puran Khadka and Uttam Nepali—who contributed to the development of Nepali contemporary art field.

Some specialities

Paintings of late veteran artists of Nepal exhibited at Agrajka Bimbaharu, an art exhibition, in Kathmandu, in June 2022. Photo: Sangita Shrestha
Paintings of late veteran artists of Nepal exhibited at Agrajka Bimbaharu, an art exhibition, in Kathmandu, in June 2022. Photo: Sangita Shrestha

Moreover, the exhibition features only two veteran women artists’—Shahi Kala Tiwari and Dr Seema Sharma Shah’s— paintings. This is special because Tiwari’s paintings are also very rarely seen in exhibitions.

Two of Shashi Kala Tiwari's artworks exhibited at Agrajka Bimbaharu, in Kathmandu, in June 2022. Photo: Aryan Dhimal
Two of Shashi Kala Tiwari’s artworks exhibited at Agrajka Bimbaharu, in Kathmandu, in June 2022. Photo: Aryan Dhimal

According to artist Roshan Pradhan, one of the founders of Pagoda Group, the idea of the exhibition was conceived during the Covid lockdown. About featuring only two women veteran artists in the exhibition, he shares, “We tried to get other women veteran artists’ work as well but unfortunately, our efforts went futile.”

Moreover, the exhibition has given a chance to understand the artworks of veteran artists which seem to be like a mini-museum.

About the exhibition, one of the participating veteran artists Shyam Lal Shrestha expresses, “I am very happy with the exhibition where I have shared the same platform as veteran artists of Nepal. I did not expect the organiser to get this fantastic collection. One can understand the development of Nepali art by viewing the exhibition.”

 The exhibition continues till Monday (June 6).

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Shrestha is a senior sub-editor at Onlinekhabar. Contact her at [email protected]

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