MY ART JOURNEY
I was born in Sarawal village of Nawalparasi District, Lumbini Zone on September 15, 1980 as the only son of Seti Devi and Santa Bahadur. My grandfather was involved in the production of tools and equipments for agriculture. My father was still a student when I was born, and he was a good painter and sculptor. I would hear praises from the villagers for my father regarding his skills, and I, too, was fascinated by arts. Whenever and wherever possible, I used to draw pictures and create statues. I was inspired by my family in my endeavor and it would stimulate me even more.
I was sent to the local Mahendra Primary School when I was a kid. I completed my secondary level education from Janata Secondary School in 1998. With the encouragement from my friends and teachers, I started sketching fine pictures. My teachers of science and health would ask me to sketch the figures related to our classroom discussion on the blackboard before they would start teaching us about them. I also participated in the poster competition representing my school organized by the District Education Office. It was a moment of happiness and pride for me. When I was in class ten, I prepared a 3.5 feet tall statue of goddess Saraswati seated on a lotus leaf for my school. It made me quite popular in the school. I was loved and cared by all. My level of confidence was on the rise. My teachers were happy with me, and my family quite contented.
I passed my SLC exams in 1998. My family was not in a state to support my in my further studies. This was a situation which had its roots in the financial reasons. But I wanted to be independent, and earn money for my higher studies on my own. I also reflected a lot on how I could support my family financially.
I used to feel happy in the world of colors and art. I had a deep desire of giving continuity to art and make my living out of it. From the village of Sarawal I came to Butwal where I wanted to learn art from Man Goldie, a famous artist and a relative of mine. I lived in Butwal for about a year. There, I acquired the fundamental knowledge of painting and colors. I was surprised when I saw the huge color posters of actors and actresses in the movie hall. ‘How could one draw such huge paintings? They must be great artists’. Such thoughts would fill my mind. Later I came to know that these huge posters were brought from Kathmandu. Then, a new desire came into my mind. I wanted to go to Kathmandu and see and learn how these large paintings were made. I eventually left for Kathmandu in 1999.
I was amazed to see the sculptures and architecture of the Kathmandu valley. I truly believed this was the place where I could live and learn the skills of arts. I determined to live in Kathmandu and dedicate myself to art. I started dreaming of an artistic career. The situation and luck turned out to be in my favor. I found a place where I could not only learn painting but also earn some money for my living. It was a studio named Painter Babu at Mitrapark. I succeeded in impressing the proprietor with my hard work and, finally, my dream to live in Kathmandu turned into a reality. I was excited and was looking ahead for a career in painting. My master was happy with my work. My job was to write signboards and banners, draw pictures, and carry out all sort of artistic works. I had started earning three to four thousand rupees within a few months. I used to carry out my work happily. I was satisfied. But I heard other artists talking of formal education in painting and the infinite possibility of learning further. I started getting anxious; in no way I would be happy with the status quo. So many questions associated with joining an Arts College, diving into the deeper areas of art, making financial arrangements arose in my mind. The main hindrance even now was the financial management. I sat down to make a calculation. When I came to a conclusion that my monthly income would be enough to pay my rent, college fees, and my daily expenses, I was extremely delighted. I went to the Fine Arts College at Bhotahity with an aim of carving a new way of life. I had heard from many that if one learns painting, he or she can not be a sculptor; but if someone learns to make sculptures, he or she can be a painter too. I got admitted in 1999 in sculpture. The real struggle of my life as a student of art began then and there.
I used to arrive early in the morning at the art studio in Mitrapark from my rented room in Samakhushi. I would finish my professional works of the studio by 11 a.m. and reach the college. After the college, I would reach the studio at 4 p.m. and would work there till late night. I would visit art exhibitions on the days when the college was off. It was indeed a time of struggle. Later I was allowed to take some of my works home and complete them there. This made my daily routine a bit easy. During that time, I secured first position in the painting competition organized by the Rising Creator.
I had arrived at Kathmandu with a dream of creating individual identity in art and a secured future. Within a few months, I started working at a gallery in Thamel. This studio was much better in comparison to the one at Mitrapark. It not only presented many challenges in arts but also provided ample opportunities to learn and grow. I would look at the beautiful paintings there and would long for the day when I would be able to do all that. I started working hard dividing my time between the gallery and the college. I acquired lots of practical knowledge of arts, its professional aspect, the market, the customers, and a number of technical aspects related to the trade. I used to reach there early in the morning, as before. I would go to the college in the noon and come back to the gallery in the evening too. I would strive to improve my work even after reaching home. While working there I started dreaming: Why not begin my own gallery? This dream remained in my mind for a long time.
I lived in the village for some time after that. Once I returned to Kathmandu, I started painting independently and selling them to the galleries at a reasonable price. I also started working for the cyber cafes. A number of my paintings would be hanging on the walls of many cyber cafes, and they would get sold from there. I started getting even more desperate to open my own gallery, to decorate it and to hang my own paintings there. My will power was getting stronger, and finally I started my own gallery in 2057 B.S. at Lazimpat. I named it B.K. Art Gallery. During my journey till here, I had learned to play with different colors and forms. I started experimenting with every new painting, and achieved success in it. My regular customers from the time I used to work at Thamel also continued buying my paintings even now. They used to buy my paintings in a wholesale price. I gradually became financially strong. I never had to look back. Success followed me. My hard work, dedication and sincerity made all this possible.
I continued to paint pictures and sell them from my gallery. I sent a painting for exhibition at the Nancy Fair in Nancy, France in 2004. In 2005, I met a Korean poet, Kim, in my gallery. He used to visit my gallery regularly and spend plenty of time there. He would observe my paintings closely and make a number of suggestions regarding them. Later, he requested me to accompany him in a trekking to the Annapurna region. I love traveling, and did not miss the opportunity. I not only saw mountains, hills and villages from very near but also had a chance to become familiar with the societies and cultures of the region. Later Kim bought a number of my paintings, and even made arrangements for me and my teacher Radheshyam Mulmi for an exhibition in Korea. My visit to Korean art galleries, museums, and art colleges impressed me a lot. I returned home with more knowledge about different aspects and dimensions of arts.
I had never held a solo exhibition before my tour to Korea. Now I started thinking about it. One day, my teacher of sculpture, Laya Mainali, came to my gallery. I shared with him my desire for a solo exhibition. He encouraged me and shared his knowledge about management and technical aspects of solo exhibition. He even suggested me regarding the type of paintings I should put on display. In 2007, I organized my first solo exhibition entitled “Kalaa Prakriti” (Art nature) at Holy Art Gallery in Lazimpat, Kathmandu. I received a lot of appreciation, comments and suggestion from the visitors. Thus, I carved my identity as an artist.
After organizing an exhibition in Kathmandu, I had a desire to organize an exhibition in my own village so that the people there would know more about art and about my work. Therefore, I organized my second exhibition in my village on the occasion of the Araniko Day. I was happy to see the interest and enthusiasm for art even there. Some of the students were so impressed that they determined to be an artist like me. Many of them came to Kathmandu and are now studying at the Fine Arts College. I was happy for being able to share some knowledge of art in the village.
In the meantime, I participated in a workshop called “Kala Abhiyan” (Mission Arts) organized by CST at Dolakha. Altogether 12 artists participated in it. For four days, we created paintings of Gaurishankar Mountain range, Tamakoshi River, Bhimsen temple, monasteries and so on. We also organized a day-long exhibition there. The main objective of this workshop was to uphold art and to promote Dolakha as a tourist destination.
During my trekking to the Annapurna Base Camp with the Korean poet Kim, I had an opportunity to get very close to nature. I would feel like transforming everything I saw onto the canvas. I painted a number of things, from a tiny flower to the red mountain hiding behind the clouds, roads covered with snow, tress and bushes alike. I felt a renewed energy within me after this close contact with nature. I returned to Kathmandu with fresh experiences. I exhibited the paintings created during that period at the Nepal Tourism Board, Kathmandu on the occasion of the Everest Day. This exhibition was different from the previous ones, and was extremely successful. As everyone loved these paintings, I had to hold the same exhibition for a second time.
As every artist would do, I also had an urge for innovation in creativity and a desire for experimentation. There was instability, violence, and bloodshed in Nepal during that time. With a wish of peace and prosperity in the country, I organized another solo exhibition entitled “Buddha ra Prakriti” (Buddha and Nature) in which lord Buddha was the major theme. I went to Bangladesh in an especial invitation of artists from Bangladesh after that. While I was in Bangladesh, I came to know that my painting had been selected for exhibition organized by Camling in India. After returning from Bangladesh, I went to India to participate in the exhibition. I was greatly impressed by the environment of the universities in India and Bangladesh. I felt our art would also attain a greater height if we could create a similar artistic environment in Nepal.
On the occasion of the Birth Centenary of the great Nepali poet, Laxmi Prasad Devkota, his son Prof. Padma Prasad Devkota suggested me to organize a solo exhibition based on his works. An artist should accept all the challenges of life and move ahead, and I did the same. It which was not only a great challenge but also a great opportunity for me to paint pictures based on the poetry of the greatest Nepali poet. Before starting to paint, I had to understand the Devkota’s poems well. Poet Manjul helped me immensely to understand the poems, their characteristics and the importance of colors. As a result, many poets and artists who visited my exhibition appreciated my paintings such as “Yatri” (The Traveler) and “Pagal” (The Lunatic). Much of the credit of this success goes also to the poet Manjul.
In this way, I have tried to comprehend every painting in newer ways. I have been accepting new challenges, fighting against new problems, accumulating new experiences and learning new things. I feel art is an ocean whose depth can never be gauzed. The artist takes deeper and deeper dives into this ocean, but never gets satiated. He is a constant trekker of the creative trail.