There is a peculiar tone when veteran artist Sashi Bikram Shah speaks and it’s a delight to hear his wise words. During the inauguration of the painting exhibition “Antarsambandha” by SKIB-71 at the Nepal Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) in Naxal on June 18, Shah shared insights about his relationship with the members of SKIB-71 and his personal experiences.
Meanwhile, a documentary with the same name was showcased on that day, which elaborated on the journey of the group and short biography of each artist in the group —Shah, Krishna Manandhar, Indra Pradhan and Batsa Gopal Vaidya. The group name, SKIB-71, is derived from the initials of the artists involved.
“I remember when I was a judge in a competition and our chancellor of NAFA, Nardamani Hartmchali, was a contestant,” he shared, “He created beautiful music using a leaf and we all were surprised by his talent. Amar Gurung was also one of the judges and we made Hartmchali the winner of the competition.”
Moreover, Hartmchali too highlighted the SKIB-71’s influence on his life and most of the modern artists’ life in Nepal. The members of SKIB-71 also played an important role in the development of Fine Arts pedagogy in Nepal. And it is certain that without them, the development of contemporary arts would lag many years behind.
The title of the exhibition Antarsambanda is aptly selected as this shows the interpersonal relationship between the group’s members. After the death of Pradhan, in 1995, SKIB-71 has exhibited together only once and this exhibition is taking place after a decade where visitors can view paintings by all its members.
Antarsambanda in English means interpersonal relationships and the exhibition shows the deep relationship between the members. Meanwhile, together they have built and maintained healthy support for each other and created opportunities for connection, belonging and personal growth.
The exhibition shows the relationship of four friends since the 1960s when they were studying art at Sir JJ School of Art in Bombay, India. It is inspiring to see these artists still being together and expressing their artistic expressions. And they are also credited to shape novel artistic expression in Nepal and leading Nepal to modernism.
In the exhibition, one can see the impressionistic and surrealistic styles in Shah’s paintings and the horse as the main metaphor.
Manandhar’s paintings have an impressionistic abstraction. His subjects are mostly based on the values of Nepali life and his works reflect his study of nature, natural forms, rhythms, and harmonies.
Then, in late Pradhan’s work, one can see the complexity of ritual and cultural values and explores the inexpressible concepts of love, mystery and divinity focusing on abstract expressionism.
Meanwhile, Vaidya’s art forms are associated with symbols and images of Nepali culture focusing on tantric philosophy and Hindu mythologies where he uses abstractionism in his painting.
The true essence of unity and dedication
In a fast-paced modern world where friendships often fade quickly, the exhibition by SKIB-71 serves as a powerful reminder of the enduring values of unity and dedication in the pursuit of their craft.
Moreover, it was SKIB-71 who continuously organised their annual exhibition since 1971 which set a trend in Nepali art scenario for group exhibitions. It is their unity that helps them establish firmly in the Nepali art scene.
Along with that their continuous effort and contribution to the development of fine arts has led the Nepali modern art scenario in the realm that showcased experimentation and expressing differently is also possible.
If you want to understand their artistic journey and their paintings, visit the exhibition that continues till Tuesday.