Kathmandu calling

Ambika Shaligram
Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Shailesh Meshram and his colleagues from the art world visited Nepal and came back with a clutch of paintings. He gives us details of the group exhibition, which is currently on at Art2Day gallery

Exposure to art while travelling always gives food for thought, first for the artists who reflect it through their works and later for their audiences who view the works at some platform. The newness in the air, skies, structures and people sets the creative ball rolling. Add to it a dash of imagination, technique and you get an art piece that’s strikingly similar to the original, but with a fresh perspective.

A bunch of watercolour artists from Pune, Mumbai and Sangli headed to Nepal earlier this year and came back with sketches, paintings, reference photographs and memories of the eight days spent in creative pursuits. Their works titled Nepal Diaries, will be displayed at Art2Day gallery till October 6. The 12 participating artists are Kavita Salunke, Hina Bhatt, Seema Ghiya, Kudalaya Hiremath, Shailesh Meshram, Farukh Nadaf, Mohan Jadhav, Sandeep Yadav and Atul Gendle from Pune, Manoj Sakale and Vikrant Shitole from Mumbai and Sameer Nadaf from Sangli.

“We all are associated with Sanskaar Bharati and attend its painting sessions regularly. Art enthusiasts, professional and commercial artists — all of us bond together. Every week-end, we visit a few spots in the city and the outskirts and sketch and paint. We also go on art trips within the country. Last December, we decided that we should travel outside the country and capture our experiences on the canvas,” says Meshram.

In February-March, the group of artists, including established and budding ones, travelled to Nepal. Prior to their trip, the group got in touch with members of the International Watercolour Society’s (IWS) Nepal chapter, besides looking up information on the net, zeroing on destinations and so on. “The IWS Nepal Chapter’s N B Gurung and his team helped us a lot in finalising the itinerary since we just had eight days in hand. We spent about five days in Kathmandu, one day in a village called Thimi and another day in Nagarkot,” adds Meshram, who is an advertising professional. 

Often it happens that when you set out to complete a task, there are some diversions and distractions which you have to steer clear of.  “In a country like Nepal which is blessed with cultural and spiritual heritage, there were too many things clamouring for our attention. Everywhere, there are eye-catching monuments, temples, colours. It can be very overwhelming for an artist. Conversely, the site that you had heard so much about doesn’t strike a chord with you. Thus, though most of our tour was chalked out, we made changes to it, as and when necessary,” he says. 

Kathmandu, says Meshram, is crowded, but not polluted. “The climate was good, the skies were clear. There are temples of Shiv, Ganapati, Lakshmi, constructed in pagoda style. The locals were friendly. There is lot of restoration work, post earthquake, that is going on in Kathmandu. It indicates that they are sticking to the original style of construction,” he adds. 

During the trip, the artists sketched and painted certain monuments, heritage sites and took a number of photographs for reference work. “Every artist worked as per his/her style. Some of us completed smaller watercolour works on the spot. Others made basic sketches and completed the work back in their studios. For some, every frame was important and so they were determined to finish their work right there,” points out the artist. 

When asked about experimentation and adding their own touches to the canvas, Meshram says, “Artists experiment in technicalities. In Kathmandu, we came across so many sculptures, temples. We had to choose what could be the focal point of our painting. For instance, if there are too many people on street, we might not include all in our painting. Or if there is an interesting looking pillar in the background, we get it in foreground. I think it’s important to capture the feel, pulse of the moment, in our works. Sometimes it may so happen that an artist might think that a certain scene is best depicted in opaque style or with acrylic, and s/he does that in spite of us being watercolour artists primarily. In our group exhibition, you will come across merged styles. For instance, Manoj Sakle, one of the participating artists, showed us how we can integrate landscapes with portraiture.” 

Visit Nepal Diaries, a group exhibition of paintings at Art2Day gallery, Bhandarkar Road, till October 6, between 11.30 am and 7.30 pm

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