Monday, September 7, 2009

Art and Architecture of Modern Nepal


South Asian Art Studies I Revised Handouts 2008/12 Batch

Teaching Faculty Tejesh Man Shakya

Chapter 4 Art and Architecture of Modern Nepal

A. Art and Architecture after fall of Malla Reign

• The principal anxiety of shah Rulers of recently great Nepal was to sustain and enlarge the kingdom, not to give a face-lift it. Therefore, they moved into the Malla address, succession their towns, palaces and temples.

• Very less effort, they made for art and architecture of Nepal. Although, there was not changed in the style of art and architecture more less the continuation of Malla Styles in early Shah period/ modern period.

• For example, Nuwakot Durbar and Basantapur Durbar (Vilas Mandir) built by King Prithvi Narayan Shah.

• Basantapur Durbar is surrounded by four copulas named Lalitpur Burja (Vilas Mandir Burja), Bhaktapur Burja (Bangala), Kirtipur Burja (Laxmi Vilas Burja), Basantapur Burja (Kailash Burja) in each corner of the palace.

B. Bhimsen Thapa and the dawn of western style

• Prime Minister and Commander - in – Chief Bhimsen Thapa invited French Troopers to train and to modernize the Nepali Troopers by the purpose of declaring war against the British East - India Company.

• Also developed Army Uniform in French style.

• Such evidence inspired to change in Nepali architecture with European style.

• For example, Bagdurbar and Dharahara located at Sundhara but they are not in existence. (Inscription of Dharahara is now collected at National Museum.)

• However, existing Dharahara was constructed by Queen Lalit Tripura Sundari in 1825 AD. but the documented Golden Plaque was destroyed by the Thunderbolt in 1856 AD. and that was later restored by P.M. Jung Bahadur Rana in 1869.

• At the same period Queen Lalit Tripura Sundari also built Sundhara (Waterspout) with Malla style.

• In this period , Nepali Art is also allied with religious paintings and sculptures but also kicked off to change in subject, style medium and purpose of painting due to augment in relationship with western world.

• For example, Raj Man Singh Chitrakar was first Nepali painter who discovered with new purpose of art in western style.

Chapter 4 Art and Architecture of Modern Nepal

B.1. Raj Man Singh Chitrakar (1797 – 1865)

• As stated over, he is known as the first realistic painter in the history of Nepali art.

• He had done plenty of drawings and paintings for British Resident in Nepal, Brian Houghton Hodgson came to stay in Nepal for Nepali Geographical, Social and Cultural studies.

• His works consisting architecture, birds, mammals and anthropology using pencil and water colour.

• A device, Camera Lucida helped him to trace accurate form of architecture and complex view that is projected through the lens onto the paper.

• Infact, he would have been trained in the tradition of Paubha and Illuminated Manuscript.

C. The Ranas and beginning of art education in Nepal

• Initiated realistic form of art in the period of Bhimsen Thapa became an established trend after excursion of first Rana Prime Minister and Shree Teen Maharaj Jung Bahadur Rana in London and Paris.

• Jung Bahadur Rana was highly influenced by western life style and after arrival back in Nepal, a new style of Neo-classic buildings from Europe added to the architecture of Kathmandu Valley.

• The Ranas did very little to support traditional art and architecture. So, they supported to paint huge realistic portraits of Ranas and to construct palaces and residencies larger and more luxurious for them and their relatives.

• Western style of 19th century became fashion and even Ranas added and changed the some parts of Hanuman Dhoka Durbar in Neo-classical style.

• Ranaudip Rana, Bir shamsher, Chandra Shamsher, Bhim Shamsher and Juddha Shamsher are principal after Jung Bahadur Rana, all of whom made effort to establish new history of art and architecture.

• Plenty of Rana palaces are still in existence like Thapathali Durbar, Sinha Durbar, Baber Mahal, Keishar Mahal, Lal Durbar, Agni Bhawan, Seto Durbar etc.

• Some of the designs of the Rana palaces were done by three recognized Nepali Architects KIshor Narsinha Rana, Kumar Narsinha Rana and Dilli Jung Thapa, all of whom were first educated architects and studied in the former British founded Roorkee Institute of Engineering in India.

C.1. Bhaju Man Chitrakar (c.1817 – 1874)

• The next generation of Raj Man Singh Chitrakar, and selected on the excursion in London and Paris with Jung Bahadur Rana at the age of 32.

• ‘La Press’, published from Paris mentioned about him as the member of Ambassador’s group.

• Worked for Jung Bahadur Rana like sketches of birds and animals and painting of human portraits. For e.g. Portrait of Bam Bahadur Rana in water colour.

• Also worked in traditional way like Paubha.

Chapter 4 Art and Architecture of Modern Nepal

• No more information and artworks found of him except mentioned in Nepalko Lalitkala by Bal Krishna Sama.

• Found his Sketch book containing 16 sketches of various birds.

C.2. Dirgha Man Chitrakar (1877 – 1951)

• The second selected artist on the excursion in Great Britain with Chandra Shamsher.

• Painted backdrops for the mini theatre inside Rana palaces.

• Also painted landscapes and portraits of Ranas as ordered by Chandra Shamsher

• For e.g. portraits of Bhimsen Thapa, Mathwar Sinha Thapa, Jung Bahadur Rana etc.

• Also worked in traditional style like Paubha.

• Also Known as Photographer.

C.3. Chandra Man Singh Maskey (1899 – 1984)

• First graduated artist of Nepal and studied at Calcutta Government School of Arts (India), sent by Chandra Shamsher.

• After arrival from India, started to teach in Durbar School, Tri- Chandra College, Padmakanya High School.

• Also recruited as Curator in Nepal Museum and later recruited as the Director of Archaeology Department.

• Participated in International Art Exhibition – Akhil Bharatiya Kala Pradarshani.

• Used water colour, charcoal, pastel etc. for the paintings as medium and subjected to portraits, landscapes, religious paintings and other gerne paintings.

C.4. Jib Ratna Shakya (1920……..)

• First art student in Nepal at Nepal Kala Pathshala and passed Kala Kaushal and later Kala Praveen.

• Became art teacher in same school.

• Paintings consisting landscape and religious theme (especially Buddhist theme) in water colour, charcoal etc.

• Participated in many National and International Exhibitions.

C.5. Kalidas Shrestha (1922…….)

• Graduated from J.J. school of Arts (Bombay).

• Became faculty member at Durbar High School and also appointed to convert Nepal Kala Pathshala in Juddha Kala Pathshala by Padma Shamsher, along with Chandra Bahadur Shrestha and Jib Ratna Shakya.

Chapter 4 Art and Architecture of Modern Nepal

• Worked for Ranas to decorate, carve statues, design windows, doors and to paint backdrop for the mini theatre.

• Judda Kala Pathshala was converted to Nepal Lalitkala Campus under Tribhuvan University in the period of King Mahendra and became Principal of the campus.

• Artworks consisting portraits and landscapes in water colour, oil and pencil.

D. Beginning of contemporary modern art in Nepal

• The perception of modern art admiration is just about 50 years old.

• Also established modern art gallery in Kathmandu after 60’s.

D.1. Lain Singh Bangdel (1919? – 2002)

• Darjeeling born, first modern artist of Nepal invited by King Mahendra.

• Established new trend in contemporary modern art of Nepal by introducing abstract art.

• Graduated from Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux Arts du Paris (National school of Fine Arts in Paris).

• Early paintings consisting figurative form. Then turned to abstract form and at the end of his life again turned back to figurative form.

• Harmonious and rhythmic colour features with psychological and aesthetic elements.

• Inspired by the blue period’s paintings of great artist Picasso.

• Became member of Advisory Committee of NAFA, when founded and Vice Chancellor of Royal Nepal Academy.

• Also taught Nepali Art and Culture at Denison University, America.

• Written many art related books like Stolen Images of Nepal, Praachin Moortikalako Itihaas etc.

D.2. Thakur Prasad Mainali (1934……..)

• Leading modern sculptor in Nepali Art Scenario and popular for monumental sculptures.

• Graduated from M.S. University, Baroda, India.

• Inspired by Nepali pioneers Chandra Man Singh Maskey, Ramananda Joshi and great sculptors Moore, Brancusi and Giaccometti.

• Sculptures consisting semi abstract form in concrete, plaster of paris, wood and brass/bronze.

• Participated in National and International Exhibitions as well as Solo Exhibitions.

• Also the member of Fine Arts Subject committee, Kathmandu University.

Chapter 4 Art and Architecture of Modern Nepal

D.4. Pramila Giri (1946………)

• Lady painter and sculptor of Nepal.

• Graduated from California State University, America, with double Master’s Degree in Fine Arts and Arts Literature. And Bachelor’s Degree from Shanti Niketan, India.

• Artworks subjected to Hinduism with abstract style in oil, marble, concrete, plaster of paris, bronze/brass/copper and wood.

• Worked as Lecturer in Nepal Lalitkala Campus.

• Organized many solo exhibitions in Nepal and other various countries.

• These days staying at Oslo, Norway.

D.5. K.K. Karmacharya (1946……….)

• Graduated Kala Praveen from Judda Kala Pathshala and student of Kalidas Shrestha. Also Graduated from Tribhuwan University in Humanities.

• Multi-talented artist as Painter, Graphic Designer as well as Sculptor.

• Early works consisting portraits, landscapes and illustrations.

• Worked as Post Stamp Designer in General Post Office.

• Renowned as initiator of collage technique in Nepal.

• Leading Designer for establishment the trend of Modern Graphic Design in Nepal.

• Now-a-days doing paintings in abstract style using acrylic colour.

• Participated in many National and International Art Exhibitions.

#Based on unpublished mini thesis written by Silwal, Sandhya; Shakya, Tejesh Man; Maharjan, Bijaya; Shakya, Shishir Ratna; and Shah, Umesh; Art and Architecture of Modern Nepal, Kathmandu University, 2007.

Referred Books

1. Shah, Rishikesh; Modern Nepal.

2. Nepal Water Colour Soceity, The First Ever Exhibition, Nepali Watercolour Painting in Retrospect, 1850 – 2003.

3. Nepal Water Colour Soceity, The First Ever Exhibition, Nepali Watercolour Painting in Retrospect, 1908 – 2004.

4. Joshi, Harihar Raj and Joshi, Indu; The First Nepali Pioneer Artist, Raj Man Singh, Chitrakar.

5. Messerschmidt, Don; Against the Current, the Life of Lain Singh Bangdel, Writer, Painter and Art Historian of Nepal.

6. Mainali, Laya; Thakur Prasad Mainali Ra Uhaanka Vatavaraniya Moortiharu.

Chapter 4 Art and Architecture of Modern Nepal

D. Pictures for review

Portrait of human

by Raj Man Singh Chitrakar

19th Cent.


by Kalidas Shrestha

Pen & Ink

20th Cent.

Chapter 4 Art and Architecture of Modern Nepal

Mother and Child

by Lain Singh Bangdel

20th Cent.

Om Namah Shivaya,

by Thakur Prasad Mainali

5ft high

20th Cent.