Return to Nature

Art Issue 144 Nov, 2013
Text by Isha Gharti

In an attempt to revive the once celebrated glory of watercolour and outdoor painting, Park Gallery organizes a workshop in honor of the gallery’s founder

Experts affirm that though the history of modern art in Nepal dates back a mere 60 years, no substantial efforts have been made to unearth the historical documentations of the Nepali modern art evolution. Keeping this in mind and to excavate the background of watercolour painting in Nepal, Park Gallery organized “Return To Nature,” a three-phase art event that includes lectures, a workshop and an art exhibition. “This is not a typical art exhibit,” says the organizer, Nabin Joshi. “It is actually a research on how watercolour painting came into Nepal, who the initial practitioners were and how it evolved over time.” Another major feature, research and documentation with the project, also serves as an attempt to celebrate the effect nature has on creativity. Staying true to the event’s premise, “Return To Nature” is a tribute to pioneering watercolourist R.N. Joshi on the occasion of his 75th birth anniversary.

Eminent writers and painters, Mukesh Malla and Madan Chitrakar, got the event off the ground on the 7th of September with an orientation and a lecture on the evolution of watercolour painting worldwide and its impact in Nepal.

The workshop, held on the 14th of September, featured an excursion to Kirtipur and saw the participation of 22 Nepali watercolourists ranging from the budding to the experienced like Surendra Pradhan, Srijan Rajbhandari, Rajan Kafle, N.B. Gurung, Sarita Dangol, Neera Joshi, Sundar Lama, Shyam Maharjan and Ishan Pariyar. The artists explored the nooks and crannies of Kirtipur in search of inspiration, with a majority opting for realistic paintings based on the beauty of the city while a few ventured to creatively interpret their surroundings. Raihan Rafi, a visiting artist from Bangladesh, however, was not too impressed. “The skills are really good but I expected a little more creativity,” he said. “Most of the paintings look like they belong to the Renaissance era.” The participants, though, were appreciative of the experience and wished for more such events in the future. One of them, Ishan Pariyar, referred to the workshop as “rare” as most events today do not emphasize on watercolour or the outdoors.

The third phase, the exhibition, which shall display the paintings created in the workshop, is due to take place in a month, during which two prestigious prizes will be given away. One will be presented to an artist with a long history of watercolour painting while the other will be given to the participant with the finest illustration in the workshop.