Mystery that is me

Himalayan News Service


As conflict surrounds us, we endlessly begin a search for ourselves. As the world changes, we question the change. Sujan Chitrakar assaults you with the 2,500-year-old biblical question right from the entrance and echoes it in all the works on display at ‘Utopian Introspection’ — “Who art thou?” Siddhartha Art Gallery has been transformed into a virtual journey into self and this is the artist’s first solo exhibition. A powerful display, it emotes the fragments of the artist’s being and relates it to existence at large. It asks again — Who are we?

“Random expression within defined periphery,” repeats Sujan to us. “I do not want to call this an installation art programme because it goes beyond within a randomly defined periphery”. What is this periphery? “The two by six format, the area covered by my body,” Sujan replies quickly with a quirky smile, “But the ideas travel randomly beyond this.” Utopia is a vague term, adds the artist pointing to the dictionary meaning that has been etched on the glass. On another is etched the meaning of “Introspection”. “This is a journey inside me where I face the seven deadly sins. I call it ‘witnessing’ self, not removing the mistakes or covering them but facing and accepting them in utopia.”

The quest begins with this and continues to ‘How can I reach thou?’. The nails are constantly hammered in the panels and the sound of the heartbeat echoes in the gallery until one stops listening to it consciously like one does to one’s own heart. “The music is my heartbeat,” explains Sujan. “Salil and Nabin on the didgeridoo and the table put it into music.” The audio adds rhythm to the visual; the experience is a transcendent understanding of the spiritual.

As you travel with the panels of ideas, the artist ‘Meditates on Self’ before performing a ‘Dissection of self’. He traverses the ‘Interior Horizon’ in two versions that reflect into glasses and you stand face to face with your ego. Mirror, mirror on the wall… “Who art thou?”

Extending from within, he reaches to the power of authority and the throne of the soul. The mantras have changed from ‘Om Mane Peme’ to ‘Utopian introspection’ as the seven deadly

sins swim in the glass aquarium above the prayer wheels made of tin cans. “Every minute I feel I’ve died,” says Sujan. “To look outside brings back frustration. This is satire and realisation.”

Nearly all of the works by Sujan are presented in sets of three. The connotations can be liberally interpreted and we fall upon the significance of the physical, mental and spiritual. The artist replies vaguely, “I should ask a psychologist because I really don’t know. I just worked on what was within me.” Sujan states that it all begins with an interior view. “‘Man is a mystery,” says the artist quoting Dostoyevsky, “I’m working on this mystery for I want to be a man.” Twenty-nine years of questioning has him exploring the question that beats in time with your heartbeat as you exit, the banners echoing the same — “Who art thou?”.The exhibition ends on May 28.