Newa Chen Art Gallery was established in the year 2010 to encourage and promote young artists of Nepal. Every year, they arrange various events to endorse such talents and uplift the state of artists in our country. This year too, from March 9-30, they are organizing a special exhibition on the occasion of International Women’s Day to provide a platform for women artists to showcase their talents.
According to Sarita Dangol, coordinator of the art gallery, this is a group painting and print exhibition put together by a group of 14 talented women.
“The state of women in our society is deplorable. Women often hesitate to put up their own exhibition despite having money and resources to do so. This is because they have very less decision making power at home,” says Dangol adding that, for this exhibition, they had to inform the women artists six to seven months in advance so that they had time to prepare at home. The exhibition will allow selected women to display their paintings for free on a theme of their choice.
An exhibition for everyone
Women from all walks of life can participate in this exhibition for free. “We want to encourage women to do what they like. Most of the paintings being displayed at the exhibition are made at home by women who love art,” says Dangol.
The paintings depict different stories, emotions, and feeling of women in their own way. According to Dangol, the restrictive norms of our society often tend to suppress the voices of women. On the occasion of International Womens’ Day, Newa Chen Art Gallery intends to project those voices, emotions, and expressions to the world.
At the same time, they also want these artists to understand that there are many others who can relate to these stories. “I’m sure our viewers will be moved and touched by these paintings. These visual expressions very beautifully display, question and reject the prevalent societal suppression that most of us might have faced,” says Dangol.
Importance of recreation
Dangol believes that women these days are struggling to balance their personal and professional life. She says women now face double the burden, comprising of household work and office duties. As a result, they get very little leisure time for themselves.
“This exhibition has also been held to remind women to take out time for recreation,” says Dangol. “Many artists have come and told us that they started painting again after many years because of this exhibition. You see, women often tend to sacrifice their passion and happiness for others,” she adds. Newa Chen Art Gallery wants to remind each and every woman that she deserves to be happy and do what she likes.
At the end of the exhibition, these paintings will also be up for sale. According to Dangol, the money that artists get from their paintings will encourage women to make more paintings of their choice and become better at it. “It’s important to let artists know that their art will be appreciated in the market to push them further into the field. Selling their art is one way to do so,” she says.
Developing a love for art
The gallery wants to develop a culture that appreciates art in the valley. Dangol says that there are many brilliant artists in our country but they do not have the right platform. Through various interesting and attractive exhibitions, the gallery aims to endorse a culture that loves and appreciates art.
“Our country has a rich history of art and we want to preserve it through various events and make it visible to the world,” she says.
The hidden stories
The art exhibition is going to project various stories that have affected or impacted Nepali women. “These are the voices of the general public that you have never heard,” says Dangol.
Anamika Gautam, an artist who will be displaying her painting at the exhibition, says that she has made a painting named ‘Transformation’. Through her painting, she wants to portray how the increasing rate of unsafe abortions in Nepal is affecting women’s health.
“I intend to show how improvement in technology may not always be for the better. Abortion may have become an extremely simple process due to advancement in medical science but the grave impact that it has on a woman’s mental, psychological, and physical health is often ignored,” says Gautam.
Jasmine Raj Bhandari portrays the festival of Rishi Panchami through her art. During this festival, Hindu women seek forgiveness from the Sapta Rishi (seven Rishis) for any kinds of mistakes they might have made during menstruation. According to Hindu beliefs, women are considered impure during menstruation. They are not allowed to touch the temple, kitchen, or men. During Rishi Panchami women fast asking forgiveness for any blunder they might have during this time.
“My painting questions such religious practices and compels the viewers to think about these rituals,” says Bhandari.
‘Mriga Trishna’ a painting made by Sandhya Silwal and ‘Astitwa Bodh’ made by Deepmala Maharja show how our cultures and traditions may look extremely interesting from the outside but they often tend to confine and suffocate women through its narrow minded views. “I have tried to show how women often fail to lead life the way they want due to restrictive norms. They are bound by all these ties and codes of conduct,” concludes Silwal.