The history of art galleries in Nepal goes back to 1942, when the first art gallery, “Kala Bhawan” was established by Narrottam Das Shrestha, promoter and collector of art. The first artist to hold a formal art exhibition in Nepal was Uttam Nepali at Saraswoti Sadan, Ranipokhari in 1962. This was the first time a wide section of Nepali viewers got the opportunity to take pleasure in the arts. Government investments in promoting art and culture began with the establishment of The Nepal Art Council in 1963 followed by the founding of The Nepal Association for Fine Art (NAFA), in 1965. In recent years, a number of art galleries and art shops are coming up making it easier for artists to showcase their creations. These places have become a prominent watering hole for art lovers. The galleries take care of the marketing of the art. These days, galleries in the city have even been displaying works of selected artists from abroad.
Sangeeta Thapa started Siddhartha Art Gallery, in 1986, along with prominent artist and poet Shashikala Tiwari, to promote contemporary Nepalis art and to serve as a platform for young and talented artists. Thapa shares, “In a developing country like ours, it is difficult to convince people that art can be a national priority. In order to preserve the artistic and cultural heritage
of society and to create awareness about the value of art, private investment is the need of the hour.” The gallery also organises workshops and lectures by visiting artists who give first hand experience to Nepali artists about developments across the world. The gallery has also promoted Nepali artists and their work that reflects the best of Nepal in international exhibitions.
Saroj Bajracharya, a student of management, preferred to quit his field and become an artist.
He received a three-year formal training in painting from Srijana Art Gallery. Since last August, he has taken charge of Gallery 9 at Lazimpat for a year from Sutra. Gallery 9 has been displaying a variety of modern exhibitions of national and international artists. According to Bajracharya, “Art is more about involvement rather than time. The quality of time you have devoted matters more than the quantity of time. We emphasise more on interaction among artists, art lovers, media, writers and thinkers for imprivement.”
Park Galley was established by famous artist Late Ramananda Joshi in 1970. His daughter Neera Joshi Pradhan, a botanical artist, now runs it. “The main intention of this gallery is to give exposure to young and talented artists. It also exhibits works of senior artists who no longer need promotion and to respect them for their contributions. Any new and unique artwork definitely finds space in Park Gallery depending upon the quality, theme and purpose of the work. For me, it is a means to self-satisfaction.”
The Art Shop, Durbar Marg, is a newly established art shop managed by Pragendra SJB Rana, an artist himself. It is yet another platform for amateur artists. Being an artist, establishing a gallery was an obvious vocation for Rana. It is a place where he can share his ideas, learn from others and see the love and appreciation for art. Rana says, “What matters most in an exhibition is not the sales but the pleasure people get from art. For me this love of art matters most because the purpose of art is to produce a pleasing effect upon the mind. Our intention is not only to display work of well-known artists but also seek out and exhibit new young Nepalis talents.”