Devouring art

Text by Tan Pei Lin

Displaying a growing appreciation for local artwork, several of Kathmandu’s popular eateries are doubling as art spaces. These restaurants do not just satisfy hunger, they are also places where art can be consumed.

Imago Dei
Tucked away in the inner alleys of Naxal, this well-furnished café stands out from its neighbors. With a European style finish and a cozy space, the eatery is also home to an art gallery. The owner, Rachael Manley, came up with the combination because she felt it was easier to attract customers to food than to art itself. By fusing both in a single space, it would allow people not necessarily seeking art to be exposed to it. The gallery showcases both new and senior artists. Imago Dei hopes that through this fusion of art and food, people will take a bigger interest in art and perhaps one or two will take it even further and invest in the field or promote a promising artist.

Places Restaurant & Bar
Stepping into the narrow hallway leading up to the restaurant, you can’t help but be amazed at the art-covered walls. Places Restaurant & Bar utilizes the concept of combining art with food, hoping to attract more than just tourists in Thamel. Via showcasing modern art by local artists (or collaborations with local artists), the owners hope that their customers will develop an appreciation for art. Besides the pieces on auction in the restaurant, Places also has a rooftop exhibition space where street artists can create illustrations on planks of plywood which will then remain as permanent installations.

Ting’s Tea Lounge & Hotel
Beyond being just a tea lounge, Ting’s is more of a hotel that lends its compound walls to local artists so that they can exhibit their creations. The idea materialized when owners Thomas and Annette Tingstrup decided to help local artists commercialize their artwork. The couple’s stand is that they only exhibit art that they believe in – art that expresses the artist’s inner feelings and attitude. They do not charge the artist for using their facilities and proceeds from sales go solely to the creator. Besides art exhibitions, Tings also organizes film festivals, music evenings and poetry readings.

RatoMato Organic Restaurant & Bar
Priding itself in trying to be as local as possible, this restaurant grows most of its produce in its own organic farms in Lazimpat and Kirtipur. RatoMato also lends out its extra space to upcoming artists to display their work. The owners, Ambesh Rajbhandari and Prashid Gurung, wanted to create a hub where like-minded people could gather and appreciate local culture. Displaying mostly modern or cultural art, the current exhibition hosts the work of three artists – Sailesh Maharjan, Subesh KC and Shraddha Mukhiya.The pieces can remain there for as long as the artist wants or until someone else comes along and enquires about the space. The restaurant cum gallery’s goal is to provide a platform for upcoming artists to break into the scene and get noticed.