Kathmandu Triennale 2017
The first edition of Kathmandu Triennale, Nepal’s biggest contemporary arts festival, was held in Kathmandu from 24th March to 9th April 2017. The festival was spread across several venues in the Valley.
The work of the artist S.C. Suman is situated within the tradition of Mithila painting and ritual art. S.C. Suman makes for the Triennale three new works on paper in relation to the theme of The City. As an artist practicing a craft originally only executed by women, he preserves and contemporarises the practice. The paintings are on view in the Taragaon Museum. In the Nepali Art Council (and some other locations) one can also see his installation of jhaap, a colorful paper fixture painted traditional motifs.
A scaled, cardboard model of a few neighborhoods in Bucharest (Romania) is installed as an obstacle for the visitor. The visitor is obliged to destroy the city by walking on it. There is no way out. If one wants to visit the rest of the exhibition one has to step on and destroy the work. The work connects to the 1977 earthquake of Bucharest, as is it does to the recent quakes in Nepal as well.
Food is a recurring element in the work of Song Dong. On different occasions Song Dong has been building models of fictional cities made out of cookies, biscuits and candies. The cityscape of a city turned into a sweet utopia. For the occasion of Kathmandu Triennale the artist made a city in the form of a mandala with biscuits, wafers and candy. At the end of its completion the mandala is swept away by visitors of the exhibition who eat the edible city. During the exhibition an empty plinth with leftovers becomes a witness to the eating event. On two screens, the whole performance of ‘Mandala City for Eating’ is documented.
A flower that smiles, evoking a smile that flowers, 2016 By using everyday objects and combining these in an unexpected juxtaposition Belu Simion Fainaru opens up possibilities of reading and understanding the world we live in. Vernacular elements are connected with elements of a spiritual order. The banal and vulgar are transformed into elements of beauty and surprise. In ‘Black Milk’ the artist formed a rectangular shape with white china bone eating plates and pots in different forms. Every form has been filled with black burned oil. The form the work takes is a direct critical reference to the land art artist Richard Long, the way it is filled in makes us think on the dependency of the world on oil.
Both artists started an ongoing exchange of drawing-letters between Gent and Kathmandu. Their meeting is a questioning and understanding of each other’s identities through a series of drawings, photographs, objects. The exhibition space in Nepal Art Council is the studio of the artists where most of the work has been realized. Part of it is conceived as a space for presentation, part as an ongoing working place. The result is a an installation as a sequence of images, drawings and other media which gives an insight into the wonderful encounter between two artists from different cultural backgrounds.
Stories shape places and places foster stories. A place as old as Ason, in downtown Kathmandu, has an unending flow of events and memories. They play out around the gallis and chowks of Ason from generation to generation. The shops and homes, crumbling buildings and new structures, commerce and religion create a vibrant space. Happiness, hope and joy are layered over despair, displacement and sadness in the many told and untold stories that have settled down around Ason over time. Through a series of intimate conversations with fathers and sons, the artist anchors his work in Ason and through the space he is able to empathize with their personal experiences and the complexities of relationships. Within a patriarchal system, father and son relationships can be fraught, lacking in both compassion and conversation, but the presence of love cannot be denied. The artist captures the fragments of memories, stories, spaces, memorabilia and people that he has discovered over the time he has spent in Ason.