KATHMANDU, Sept 13: It was the love for music that drew artist Rajesh Manandhar into the world of colors and sketches. In his solo exhibition at NAFA Art Gallery, Bal Mandir, he reminisces, “I loved sports and music. But I was terrible at drawing. I only joined art classes at Lalit Kala Campus because back then, you weren’t allowed to major exclusively in music.”
He considers it possible to master colors and ink with rigorous practice. “That is what I teach my students,” An art teacher and the coordinator of Creativity Club at Budanilkantha School, he explains, “In every crooked line and imprecise circle, there’s an artist in the making.”
Manandhar believes that pencil sketches and ink drawings are his forte. “I love colors too,” he says, “They are attractive. But black and white captivates me. It’s raw and expressive. Perhaps starting out as a cartoonist has something do with that.”
After 2003, this is his first solo exhibition. All the works displayed are done in ink. And the theme is “Beggars.” Most of the figures are distorted, many contain bizarre geometric features and almost all have gloom and despondency etched upon their faces. There are very few realistic pictures.
But distorted or not, all figures have one thing in common – amazingly expressive eyes. There is a particularly remarkable drawing of a beggar woman with a human head and limbs and the body of an insect that reminds of Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis.’
“As an artist, my wife wants me to draw beautiful things,” he beams. “She gets tired of seeing disfigured images. But I tell her this is what I’m born to do.”
It was a video footage of Jana Ekta Primary School in Rolpa that motivated Manandhar to attempt this exhibition to raise money for the school.
“There are 116 children and one teacher with measly salary. There are no books, no benches, not even a roof to sit under. I was so moved that I decided to do something about it.” Hence the exhibition.
The prices of the paintings range from Rs 500 to Rs 10,000. The exhibition ends on September 16. Afterward, the unsold paintings will be exhibited in Pokhara. Every Rupee thus earned will go to that school in Rolpa, the inspiration behind the creative project colored with a hue of philanthropy.
Creativity knows no bounds. Manandhar fondly remembers how he used newspaper cuttings instead of canvas since he couldn’t afford to buy them when he was an art student in Korea. His efforts and originality had then been praised but an innocent comment from a girl warmed his heart. “She said my pictures strongly reminded her of Pashupati and its beggars,” he smiles, “That was when I knew I had succeeded as an artist.”
Pandey is a student at IACER College in Baneshwor and is currently pursuing her Masters in English.