It is no secret that Nepal is one of the photogenic countries in the world. Picturesque Nepal is also reflected in paintings, and Phewa and Machapuchre make it to many canvases in Thamel.
However, despite its pristine beauty, Rara never makes it to any oil-on-canvas work. That is because Rara is in Mugu, in Nepal’s most remote districts. It takes at least two days just to get to the lake from Kathmandu — and that is by plane. Surprisingly, it takes about the same time by long-distance night bus.
Which is why artists never really go there. However, 14 fine art students and their teachers braved the precarious journey to hold a five-day workshop and Karnali’s first-ever modern art exhibition in Gamgadhi of Mugu.
“Initially we were hesitant about the performance, wondering if anyone would understand it,” recalls Koshal Hamal, the only known fine-arts graduate and teacher from Karnali. “But as we spread awareness about junk food and the health and environmental hazards they pose, we heard murmurs of understanding from the crowd.”
Hamal and the Karnali Arts Center (KAC), which organised the event, also intended to get children interested in art, inviting over 2,000 students from 5 schools to the exhibition. Not only did children watch the paintings and performances with curiosity, but their parents also understood art as a career.
Mugu has been a hub of modern art in Karnali of late, starting a decade ago when youngsters from the district entered Sunil Pokhrel’s Aarohan Gurukul to learn theatre, and created memorable dramas including Karnali Dakkhin Bagdo Chha.