SEP 10 - Art is often looked upon as a highly individualised pursuit. Created during periods of quiet repose or intense solitude, it can be viewed as an idiosyncratic expression of the artist’s understanding of the world he lives in.
An equally important perception of art is as a communal activity, one that binds differing components of the community. In this manner art can also be looked upon as a medium that translates and preserves the essence of any particular culture.
Contemporary times have thrown people in a strange scenario where individuals come to terms with multiple layers of identity with each passing day. In this state of flux, many have begun to seek new kinships to negotiate a comfortable sense of self within the larger world.
Celebrating this very spirit of communicative and collaborative art while exploring their own inner evolution, the Kathmandu Quartet brings together four artists—Chirag Bangdel, Bidhata KC, Kapil Mani Dixit and Kurchi Dasgupta—with distinct styles together. What began in the spring of 2012 has culminated in Evolving Within—a collection that includes works by all four artists.
In its unwillingness to say much, Kapil’s minimalist artwork is perhaps the most evocative of the lot. Large canvases have been painted with larger-than-life images of the human form in nude. Curiously, all of the paintings refrain from showing the face of the subject; either the painting ends where the face begins, or the bodies are posing in such a way that they are turned away from the painter and thus the audience.
Kapil’s nude bodies, against a backdrop of mostly black, are neither lewd nor erotic, and manage instead to offer a matter-of-fact transparency. They drip with a sadness that wants to tell a story comprised of a shedding of outside forms, a sadness that is occupied with looking within.
His use of charcoal amid brushstrokes of acrylic makes the paintings appear older than they are—perhaps as a gesture to the ancient souls that new bodies contain.
Bidhata’s paintings are beautiful to look at. And as far as satisfaction for a viewer is concerned, this alone can suffice. Her
obsession with foliage, in particular leaves, can be evidenced throughout this set of paintings. Predominantly brown and
green, from colours to symbols, all her paintings are tied to nature. Richly textured, paint glides through the surface of each canvas, forming crests and troughs that bring out rocks, mud, leaves, sky, sun. The gold and bronze glazed sky is not tacky, but mesmerises, even as it is reminiscent of a fabric like raw silk.
Bidhata’s art—collectively called Unnoticed Reality—is repetitive; the same design is printed and reprinted on a single canvas, one after the other, like an obedient line of school children. Working with objects and aspects of nature that are so common to us that we don’t notice them anymore, she is successful in making us pause and give them their due attention. Working under the larger theme of evolving within, Bidhata’s depiction of nature also serves to represent our neglected inner nature.
Chirag has always entrusted bold colours to tell simple stories, and his work for this collection—an extension of his previous paintings under the Geet Govinda theme as well as his work in multimedia—continue in the same trend.
Minimalist, but in a different vein as compared to Kapil’s, Chirag’s acrylic on canvas with their blue-hued Krishna and Radha are a fusion of ancient designs and a slick modernist style. His Tattva series—which uses multimedia including lokta paper and acrylic—come in squares, triangles and circles, and carry a spiritual resonance akin to traditional Buddhist thangkas.
Among the four artists, Kurchi comes closest to being a storyteller as her artwork together works to create a series of narratives that tell the contemporary individual’s fragmented story. Working with the clearest, but often uncomfortably juxtaposed images, Kurchi’s acrylic on canvas are also the most localised of the lot, offering strikingly Kathmandu-centric visuals.
Kurchi’s attention to detail is commendable, and can draw viewers in, compelling them to stare long and hard at each line of wrinkle or strand in a flowing stream of water. Her work also feels the most idea-conscious, and it is a strange contrast in itself that such clear and specific images have been put together to create a very abstract art space.
The exhibition evenly divides the works of all four artists between each gallery wall. As Chirag puts it, “It isn’t merely that our styles our different, through the Quartet, we came to realise how different our processes, our entire approach to art is.”
And, even as the paintings are put together, this is evident in the exhibition.
Kathmandu Quartet’s Evolving Within will be on exhibition at Nepal Art Council, Babarmahal till September 17