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Published On: October 13, 2019 08:39 PM NPT By: Sangita Shrestha

Art is like drug for me: Shankar Shrestha

Art is like drug for me: Shankar Shrestha

Have you ever seen Lord Ganesh riding on a lion instead of his Bahan (vehicle) mouse? You might question ‘how can Lord Ganesh be seen riding on a lion?’ However, it is believed that on his birthday, Bhadra Shukla Chaturthi according to the lunar calendar, Lord Ganesh rides on a lion.

And, this has been depicted beautifully by 44-year old, artist Shankar Shrestha in his traditional paubha painting, which was displayed in the third edition of ‘Himalayan Art Festival’. It took him around six months to complete this painting. Using oil color medium, he has painstakingly worked on it and the result is mesmerizing.

He says he heard about the story of Lord Ganesh and was curious about how would it look, if Lord Ganesh would ride on a lion. This very curiosity led him to explore his imagination and he came out with his own composition.

In the painting, Lord Ganesh is at the center of the canvas. Shankar has paid attention to intricate details that are awestruck. Be it the jewelries he is wearing, the flames blazing behind the deity, mandala on the floor, among others.

After his failure to pass SLC, Shankar went to work as an artisan under veteran ceramic sculptor Gopal Kalapremi Shrestha. He worked there for more than a decade. According to Shankar, veteran ceramic sculptor treated him as his eldest son and learned the trait of sculpting, but he was not satisfied creating sculptures and decorating them. After leaving Kalapremi’s place, he learned painting for around three years with late veteran artist Manuj Babu Mishra.

Moreover, this master painter refused to create artwork out of frustration, as he wasn’t earning, creating paintings. He shared, “At those times, I could not earn being an artist and out of responsibilities, I left art world and started a business.”

Meanwhile, he is the source of inspiration for his son, Saurav Shrestha, whose work was also displayed in the festival. It was clearly visible that he too inherited his father’s skill, yet with a twist—concept and visualization in modern form of art—who completed his BFA in 2014 from Kathmandu University, School of Arts, Department of Art and Design.  

It must have been Shankar’s soul’s necessity to paint, even when his hands continuously tremble; a physical condition that is with him past few years and even doctors could not find a reason for. He added, “I constantly meditated for some years so that I could gain power to create paintings of gods and goddesses. One day when I was meditating, a bright light hit me and I got scared. Since then, my hands got the trembling.”

Nevertheless, it just has been three years, he began to create paintings again. He is grateful to veteran traditional artist Udaya Charan Shrestha who helped him realize his dream to be a painter.  He says he realized art is about sacrifice and money is not everything. Art for him is like a drug. He shared, “You have to have patience to be an established artist. And, at this age, I am satisfied with what I am doing. Painting is my way of gaining satisfaction in my life and will continue till my last breathe.”

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