About a Nepal Doig loved


Some people need various incarnations to prove their worth in this world, Desmond Doig did much the same in a single lifetime. Doig was an artist, writer, raconteur, landscape architect, interior decorator, who added magic to everything he touched. In memory of such a great personality, Siddhartha Art Gallery will be hosting a very special exhibition showcasing life in Nepal so well captured on canvas by late Doig from November 22.

This exhibition is a tribute to his contribution to Nepal. Doig seems to have felt so much at home in Nepal that he spent 30 years of his life in this country contributing to the promotion of tourism, which then had just begun to sprout. Born in India of an Irish father and an English mother, Doig studied at Victoria School, Kurseong. He joined The Statesman at Kolkata (then Calcutta) as a ‘roving reporter’. Doig first arrived in Nepal on an assignment to cover the royal cremation of the late king Tribhuvan in 1954. He later went on to launch his own extremely popular magazine for the youth, The Junior Statesman with Dubby Bhagat.

Mountains always fascinated him and he fell in love with Nepal. He longed to stay back and whisper to the green valley, take a stroll at the temples, visit the dark and dingy alleys capturing everything he saw around in his sketching and paintings. Charmed by the country and its people, he decided to make this his second home.

While in Nepal, he sketched and painted endlessly. His wish was to paint all the temples, stupas and other monuments he could find here. He talked to people bringing out the essence of architecture and put them in beautiful colours in his paintings. When paintings did not seem enough, when he thought he could do more justice to some of the places by writing about it. And he did. Doig travelled extensively and wrote a lot about Nepal. Someone has rightly quoted — “If God had not created Nepal, Doig would have recreated it”. Most of his notable paintings and writings are preserved in the book My Kind of Kathmandu, which sadly he did not live to see it published by HarperCollins in 1994.

He passed away in 1983 and after his demise his legacy was passed on to Bhagat, who has zealously safeguarded his collection of artwork. The exhibition ‘The Desmond Doig Exhibition’ will feature 43 paintings and drawings from the collection of a single patron, Bhagat. “A few paintings are on loan from private collectors. These paintings portray the artist’s impression of Kathmandu, the Emerald Valley. His paintings reveal a delightful rendition of ‘the Kingdom of the Gods’. Through his vivid and lively sketches, one can observe the passion and enchantment Doig felt for Kathmandu. His paintings provide a lively vignette into a Kathmandu of the late 60’s and 70’s,” says Sangeeta Thapa, director and art curator at Siddhartha Art Gallery.

Thapa says that she is thankful to Prabhakar Rana, Shyam Bahadur Panday, Inger Lissanovitch, Bernadette Vasseuex, Kunda Dixit, Ravin Lama, Lisa Chogeyal and Ratan Rai for helping all get a glimpse of the man behind the legend. Doig was indeed a Rennissance man who spent his life creating. The exhibition is sponsored by Surya Nepal and supported by ECS and Shangri-la.

Doig’s writings

•Mother Teresa: Her People and Her Work

•In the Kingdom of the Gods

•High in the Thin Cold Air

•Look Back in Wonder

•An Artist’s Impression

•Doig also wrote for National Geographic and took photographs for Life magazine