Nepal at India Art Fair: Of political satire, human emotions and feminism

New Delhi, Feb 4 (IANS) Political satire, women’s empowerment, human emotions and the struggle post the 2015 earthquake — the Nepal Art Council’s booth focuses on different aspects of the lives of people under one roof at the ongoing India Art Fair.

With six artists, the booth may have fewer photographs and paintings on display, but there is much that resonates through the works of art, each of which has a story to tell.

Take artist Sunil Sigdel’s “Peace Owners” featuring three political leaders — newly-elected US President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean supremo is painted with a twist, a touch of ‘Bodhisattva’ influenced by the paintings on Lord Buddha.

“And here lies the political satire: These leaders are known for their hawkishness but their eyes are similar to Lord Buddha’s (in the hope that peace will prevail),” Dina Bagdel, an executive board member of the Nepal Art Council, told IANS.

Sigdel is a multi-disciplinary artist who is known for works that explore socio-political issues through the juxtaposition of the local flavours.

The collection also brings the socio-economic as well as human suffering and loss that the country had to go through after the massive earthquake 2015 that jolted the nation by its roots and claimed over 9,000 lives.

“The devastation that the country faced was enormous and we have still not recovered. Things have not improved and people are left to suffer under miserable circumstances. The artists have tried to convey this through their works,” Nepal Art Council Vice President Sagar Rana told IANS.

Drawing inspiration from the ‘Mahabharata’ epic artist Anil Shahi depicts the present state of affairs post the quake. A man is shown lying on the bed of arrows, a visual metaphor for the saga’s Bhishma. His body is covered with small broken houses. Titled as “Leaving I Numb”, the painting is deeply symbolic.

Kabi Raj Lama’s lithographic print also echos the disastrous after-effects of the quake, which left large parts of capital Kathmandu and other cities in ruins. His art is a tribute to the courage and resilience of people in the face of the unprecedented tragedy.

The image, in monochrome, depicts broken and ruined parts of a house arranged in a transcendental geometric pattern. It also sends a message of hope of a better livelihood that the people are living with.

No less meaningful is Sandhya Silwal’s cutwork made of the local ‘Lokta’ paper. Her pieces may appear delicate but send across a very strong message of feminism. Silwal, through her work, explores the sensitive status of women, their sacrifices, the softness and the strength.

Artist Koshal Hamal’s solo presentation has drawn much appreciation from visitors. The canvas has been kept almost blank, deprived of much of the art-work. What remains is an abstract statement with multiple layers that question social and political norms.

How valuable ancestral belongings are, even if it is grain is brought alive in an emotional statement by Sanjeev Maharjan. His powerful photograph depicts the body of a man, painted all red and with a bowl-full of grain on his chest.

“We are here for the second time. Our beautiful landlocked country has more than just scenic beauty. It has art and the collection is an attempt to bring up the talent that our nation has got. It is a good platform to present our art,” Rana explained.

Founded in 2008, India Art Fair is one of South Asia’s leading platforms for modern and contemporary art. The fair, which is being held at the NSIC grounds, will conclude on February 5.

(Somrita Ghosh can be contacted at