Strokes of differently-abled artists

KATHMANDU: The gallery of The Taragaon Museum, Tusal, Boudha is garnered with colourful thangkas in the exhibition ‘BIA-Foundation Thangka Art’, that began on May 14.

Looking at the artistic perfection in the thangkas of different gods and goddesses — White Tara, Buddha, Guru Rimpochhe, Bajra Sattava and more — you would be surprised to know that these are the creations of differently-abled people.

All 13 artists — Super Rai, Ram Kaji Mijar, Bishnu Shrestha, Nir Bahadur Tamang, Junu Shahi, Biru Dhungana, Arjun Tamang, Sanu Shrestha, Navaraj Karki, Akkal Bahadur Tamang, Jaya Karki, Sanju Shrepa and Sabin Thapa — whose works are on display in the exhibition are differently-abled.

They are suffering from spinal injuries and need support of a wheel chair to move around.

Despite the physical disabilities, these artists have been learning the art of making thangka since 2014 under the residential programme of Bodhisattvas In Action (BIA)-Foundation, a social non-government organisation.

This is the first exhibition of the differently-abled artists who were supervised by teacher Ngawang Chhiri Sherpa, who also suffers from spinal injury, and Mingma Pemba.

And the works on display are beautiful and intricate. Bishnu, for instance, has created a beautiful thangka of White Tara sitting on a multicoloured huge lotus. The lotus is painted in the hues of orange, red, blue, brown and green. In the backdrop he has created beautiful hills and mountains along with white clouds, flowers and trees. The details used to create the draperies is worth appreciating.

Shahi has also created the White Tara. In her thangka, she has not focused much on the backdrop of White Tara. Her emphasis seems to be on the design of lotus, water body where the lotus is growing, and golden ornaments of the goddess such as headgear, necklaces, bangles and more, making it distinct from Bishnu’s White Tara.

In the exhibition you will also see thangkas created without using brush or colours. They are made of different pieces of clothes to form eight symbols of Tibetan Buddhism — umbrella, golden fish, treasure vase, lotus, conch shell, endless knot, victory banner and wheel.

Each symbol is created in a different frame — against a black backdrop, these thangkas have been painted with the joint efforts of students and teachers.

If you also want to see the beauty of traditional thangka art, then visit the exhibition that is on till May 20.