Unsnarling the Complexities

Happening Issue 202 Sep, 2018
Text by Evangeline Neve

The cozy, bright interior of GG Machan has been hosting art exhibits for some time now—this is the fifth ‘Art @ GG,’ though the first that I’ve attended. The exhibits each showcase a different artist for a one-month period. Interconnected Affection is artist Sabita Dangol’s fourth solo exhibition, and quite an outstanding one. I arrived early, so I had a chance to examine the paintings myself and then watch the reaction of everyone else doing so, all before the official opening.

And it’s that kind of art, really, because the colors of the paintings are so vibrant, and in some ways, unexpected, that they catch you off guard and make you think. After my first look-through, I found myself walking back along the space, examining the pictures again and again once I started to see the patterns and recurring motifs. While each painting depicts two figures, a man and a woman, usually gazing at each other, there are also multiple animal shapes embedded in the art itself: turtles, fish, and so on. And in each painting, sometimes so worked in that you don’t at first see it, a comb. Sometimes, the two figures are joined by a single hair comb, other times two combs are joining in the image.

The exhibition was inaugurated by Mrs. Pratima Pande, M.B.E., Honorary Consul General of Italy and President of the Nepal Britain Society, who is a lover and patron of the arts, and her enthusiasm was evident as she spoke to the gathering.

The artist, Sabita Dangol, is a modest, charming woman who has been painting for ten years now, and it’s easy to see that she is a happy person with a satisfying relationship—it shines out from each canvas. There’s a deep feeling of love and romanticism in the art, in addition to the use of symbolism and bright colors—gold, turquoise, red—that really reach out and grab the viewer. When I ask what inspires her, she happily replies, “My surroundings, what I love, where I grew up!” As a Newar, she finds ideas all around her, whether in her home or a temple. And what about those combs? I ask. That’s simple to answer: for her, the comb is a symbol of solutions; a comb brushes out the snarls and the tangles and makes everything smooth again.

Most recently, her work was displayed in the 2018 Indian Art Fair, and she’s also been selected to participate in the 18th Asian Art Biennale being held later this year in Dhaka, Bangladesh. With her talent and passionate artistic style, combined with her grounding as a person, it’s certain we’ll be seeing a lot more great work from her in the future.