“Celebration of Womanhood” is the new collection of art being showcased at the restaurant GG Machaan in Pulchowk, Lalitpur. It’s the second exhibition at the restaurant in their monthly series, where they showcase art on a single theme of a particular artist for an entire month. “ Celebration of Womanhood” consists of 20 paintings by artist Erina Tamrakar. In the previous month, Chirag Bagdel’s series “Figurative Transition” was hung up on the restaurant’s walls.
Raman Shrestha, general manager at GG Machaan, reveals that the restaurant came up with this idea of showcasing artists’ works every month because the team at GG Machaan believes Nepal is really developing in the sector of art and what we as Nepalis can do is appreciate and encourage the making of it. Additionally, this event is also an opportunity for both the artist and the restaurant to better their sales and public relations. Also, all of the artworks that are currently exhibited at GG Machaan are up for sale.
Shrestha says that the artist for the next round of exhibition will be confirmed by the fifth of every month and the very next day itself will see the inauguration of a whole new exhibition. He further adds that GG Machaan intends to make these monthly exhibitions a tradition of sorts and will continue as long as they can find talented artists to feature every month.
In conversation with the artist
The Week caught up with Erina Tamrakar to know what inspired her to work on this series to give you a glimpse into the making of the stellar paintings that are currently being exhibited at GG Machaan.
Why did you settle on celebration of womanhood as the theme for this exhibition?
Almost all of my artworks from the last two to three years have been about celebrating our lives as a woman. The patriarchal society that we live in holds a destructive mindset of how being born as a woman means you are the lesser gender and can’t do most things. To counter this belief, I center my artworks under the common theme of commemorating female lives. We have to fight this ancient thought process that puts men on a pedestal and women far down below, and try to do away with this regressive mindset. And my artworks, in their own little ways, are my efforts in doing just that.
How long did it take you create this whole collection of 20 paintings?
Actually, this collection incorporates some new and some old artworks. I did not create an entirely new collection. Instead I picked the title and theme for the series and picked these 20 paintings that would fit into the category. Some artworks in this collection are pieces I worked on back in 2013 and 2014 and the others I completed just a few weeks ago. I have been creating art that empowers women for a long time so it was easy for me to frame the collection in a way that tells this story of women empowerment.
Were you always into art or is your passion for art something that developed later on in life?
To be honest, I had no interest in art while I was growing up. It was only after my SLC exams that I got quite fascinated by it. I had a lot of free time so I hung out at my dad’s shop. To pass time, I use to draw the antiques he had at the store. My dad acknowledged this interest I was developing for arts and encouraged me to join an arts course for my future studies. I slowly started learning about the rich cultural arts of Nepal and got really invested in it. After I finished my bachelors in arts, I was sure I wanted to be an artist and have been pursuing it since then.
Is it hard to survive as a female artist in Nepal?
Forget the gender specification, it’s actually hard to live as an artist in Nepal. The fact is that it’s not taken as a serious profession in our country. But I’m happy to see that this scenario is changing with the current generation of artists. And, coming back to the gender issue, women do face a lot of gender bias in our society. It’s a lot more difficult for women to become established artists in Nepal than men. If you persist and work hard, it’s still possible. But I believe they need to work extra hard to be taken seriously. Women need to be smart and strong enough to not let all the negative mindset pose serious hurdles on their path.
How do you think people perceive your work?
I create art because I want to. I like it so I do it. I paint for myself and express my through it. I don’t do it because I want other people to see it and like it. Having said that, I think people have taken to my work quite positively. I have heard from critics and read quite a few media reviews too and I’m very grateful for all the good things they have had to say. But I can’t say everyone likes them or likes what they stand for because people have their own perception of things. And whatever opinion one holds of it is true for that particular person alone. Personally, I would like people to view my paintings to understand how misogyny is still prevalent in our society and how it can have disastrous effects. I want them to take the messages to heart and strive to create a better environment where women can truly thrive and grow.