Review

Fragments of Mustang Revisited

May 26, 2016 |

Manang Youth Society (MYS) exhibited 70 arts, including 50 paintings and 20 photographs, for 4 days starting from 18 August 2014 at Nepal Art Council Gallery, Babarmahal, Kathmandu. The paintings were executed during an 8 day residency (24 to 31 May) at Lo-Manthang of Mustang.

Inaugurated by the Minister of Culture and Tourism Mr. Bhim Acharya on 18 August, the exhibition was a part of a larger initiative initiated by Manang Youth Society to promote Mustang through art. “It is a part of an ongoing project to promote various regions of Nepal through the medium of Art”, says Tripple Gurung, the President of MYS. MYS had hosted 5 celebrated female artists and a photographer who spent their 5 days in embodying the mesmerizing landscapes and life of Mustang in the mosaic of shapes and shades.

The participating artists were Bidhata KC, Erina Tamrakar, Sunita Rana, Bipana Maharjan, Puja Maharjan and a photographer Sajana Shrestha. The five artists created altogether 50 paintings and the photographer captured the life and landscapes, besides the artists and their process. Sunita has worked on the landscapes to make them more beautiful. She has created beautiful landscapes by merging the scenes of high altitude desert with the imagination of an artist. Though it mesmerizes at once, one find no variations in terms of color and vegetation while observing the landscapes of Mustang. But, Sunita has surpassed nature by creating flora and giving it a varied color. The wind eroded bare terrain of Mustang is converted into something beautiful in her painting and it gives an impression of a monument bounded by a high altitude floral garden.

Puja has portrayed the high Himalayan life of Mustang. The women attired in traditional Tibetan costume gives a lively texture to the color of the land. Mostly the women in the region wear long-sleeved floor-length dresses; almost all in black except the aprons which are normally with multicolor stripes. Her depiction of the life there seems to be realistic that exercises a very minimal freedom to an artist’s imagination. Bipana stands more out to blend photographic reality with her subjectivity. She has depicted the chortens of the region in her paintings but she has used varied colors and unusual backgrounds. The chorten is easily standing out in the unusually dark background. And the glimpse of woods in the foreground also stands as an oasis giving life to the morbid picture in ones mind.

The color of the mountain dessert seems to have appealed all participating artists to accept as it is first and to create alternatives with the sensibility of ones mind’s eye, then. Erina has dissected the earth and has plunged in to dig the colorful gems out. Her paintings are the embodiments of the beauty hidden underneath the earth that one can see with her mind’s eye.

Similarly, Bidhata indulged herself in embodying the interplay of the architecture with the surrounding environment. In trying to capture the unexplored beauty of Lomanthang, she gravitated towards the beautiful white-washed, walled hermitage that used pigments unique to upper Mustang. It looks as if these walled- houses capture the spiritual essence of the surrounding. ‘I felt like there is an imitable relationship between nature and the human world. To capture the complementing beauty of the houses with the nature, my focal point became the texture of the walls,” says Bidhata.

 


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