KATHMANDU: Covered with creativity and visions from all over the world, the walls and rooms of Nepal Art Council stands tall bearing the marks of the making of history. The first ever-international art festival in Nepal, ‘Separating Myth from Reality — Status of Women’ ushered in a new era in the Nepali art scenario.

The biggest amalgam of artworks ever seen in Nepal officially opened at the Nepal Art Council on October 30 featuring 109 artists from 24 countries.

“While men are fighting, women are bonding,” said Rekha Mody, curator, HabiArt Foundation, India. And just like she said, it is woman who binds all these artists and the different media they have chosen together with this festival. The artists have used their aesthetic sense to express women’s strength, struggle, vulnerability, challenges and also the various shapes and sizes in which society tries to mould her.

The presence of one-time Kumari Rashmila Shakya as the chief guest personified the two differents views of people’s perception of a woman. Once she lived as a myth — the living goddess Kumari, while she is facing the reality of a woman’s life and working as a software developer today.

Addressing the gathering, Shakya expressed pride. “I am so proud that I enjoyed two lives in one. I feel women should never think that they are backward for they do have the power to bring about changes.”

Also present at the programme was CA member Sapana Pradhan Malla, who after observing all the artworks, said that every art on display “speak about the state of woman”. She added that the theme of the whole festival is the biggest truth of a woman’s life.

“Our challenge is to separate myth from reality, and art is the best tool of advocacy and also the best tool to bring about change.”

Projecting out the grim paradox of women all over the world, some artists have also not forgotten the beauty and endurance of a woman. On the one hand, there are martyrs’ women relatives in tears, while on the other there are models walking the ramps and modern day symbols of Goddess Durga.

Director of Siddhartha Art Gallery Sangeeta Thapa, the brains behind the entire festival, expressed that the strong message about woman’s plight sent by these creations will help in reducing the invisibility of the women clan in the government’s eyes.

As for the artists this festival is a beautiful platform for exchange of ideas and networking.

“I believe art is free like a bird. At events like these we get to meet artists with diverse styles and when we come in contact this way, we can keep having such events. This time it’s here, next time it might be some place else,” said Jamal Al Afghani, curator from Palestine.

Mody believes this event is a step forward for all the artists of this region who are interconnected by the fact that they share similar problems. Anoli Perara, curator and artist from Sri Lanka, was pretty impressed with the event. “It is fantastic to see an event of this magnitude and it is a very good chance for us all to expand and refresh our network. This festival opened a whole new door for all of us.”

With her two songs, Barta Gandharva incorporated yet another form of art into the whole festival.

The international art festival is being showcased at six venues — Siddhartha Art Gallery, Baber Mahal Revisited, Nepal Association of Fine Arts (NAFA), Naxal, Imago Dei Café Gallery, Gairidhara, Kathmandu Contemporary Art Centre, Sanepa, Patan Museum, Mangal Bazaar and Nepal Art Council, Baber Mahal from October 31 to November 10. A three-day lecture series by several artists will also be held at the Kathmandu Contemporary Arts Centre from October 31.