Symbolical Artistry

12, Dec 2018 |

The use of Newari art elements combined with local values and societal issues has given an empowering message through Asha Dangol and Erina Tamrakar’s works

Yala Mandala is hosting an art exhibition entitled ‘Tradition Subverted’ featuring the works of local contemporary artists Asha Dangol and Erina Tamrakar. The exhibition consists of intriguing artworks that the couple had been working for the past two years.

Situated in the mystical alley of Patan, Yala Mandala has provided just the perfect venue befitting the artistic and provocative works of the artists. While Asha Dangol has presented the issues of environmental pollution, consumerism and urbanization in a rather surreal and symbolical ways, the works of Erina Tamrakar focuses much on self, identity and gender with the use of vibrant red hues.

While talking about the inspiration behind his works Asha Dangol states, “I have been influenced by Newari art my entire life”. This certainly explains the use of a lot of traditional Newari art elements in his work, combining it with local values and social issues to give an empowering message. For instance, if one carefully studies the symbols in his present works, you will clearly find a repetition of men in gas masks, jeans and on others an articulate face of Bhairav as the head in the half dressed body. 

For one, the expressive face of Bhairav in a traditional stance depicts the artist’s aggression and anger that otherwise remains repressed consciously towards the ongoing urbanisation in the cities. However, the depiction does not end here. With the use of gas masks, cars and social media symbols the paintings portrays the unprecedented pollution, disappearing culture and traditions in the cities and the degrading internet culture in the young generation. That’s the thing about contemporary art; it makes you wonder at all the bizarre symbols that otherwise depicts a deep submerged meaning.

While Asha Dangol has made the traditional use of canvas and paint, Erina Tamrakar has opted for stones – often a conventional way to paint but which has exactly made her works more artistically and aesthetically experiential. Using flat pieces of stone that she brought back from a hiking trip, she has depicted issues of gender, self and identity through the recurrence of the Third Eye as the core symbol. Third Eye series is rooted in the femininity of the subjects, expres sed through deep reds. The recurrence of symbols creates a distinct opposition: the introspection of the silent, downward-cast eyes provides a point of contrast with the dominant gaze of the third eye, open and red. Similarly, the imagery of mirroring and reflection in her Couple series speaks to the psyche of the artist.  

“The local art scene in Nepal, about 22 years ago when I was a college student is no more. It is more vibrant and effective nowadays, young artists are creating so efficiently” says Asha Dongol when asked about the art scene in Nepal. Still it is true that the contemporary art struggles to find its buyers in the limited markets of Kathmandu, making it very difficult for the local artists.

The contemporary art of Nepal definitely needs a strong patronage in order to survive and thrive in Nepal, where so many traditional art forms are slowly disappearing. For those interested to admire and purchase Asha Dangol and Erina Tamrakar’s gorgeous art pieces may contact Yala Mandal. If not, admiring and excavating its inner meaning through the eyes might just be enough during one of the detours around Patan.


Text: Shuvekshya Limbu

Photo: Saroj Patrabansha

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