Rickshaws and motorbikes, temples and ultra-modern buildings, ancient statues and modern graffiti, all come together in a collective display of pop-art at the Bikalpa Art Centre (BAC), Pulchowk. Digital images of collapsing houses supported by beams, mixed-media installation of children smiling on the back of a rickshaw, a panoramic collage of the chaotic life in Makhan Tole with the Taleju Bhawani temple in the backdrop reflect the voices of the people who live in the city.
“Kathmandu, My Fascination” by artist Prabod Shrestha is the result of his post-earthquake wanderings around the city. The exhibition displays the lifestyle of modern Kathmandu, often connecting the old and the new: the juxtaposition of ultra-modern buildings and pottery shops around Asan; the emerging coffee culture compared to the local tea shops; the chaotic life around Maru Ganesh in contrast to a woman sitting calmly in a corner smoking and selling vegetables.
The photos were a way to work through the earthquake trauma, and to reconnect with his childhood. After losing his gallery in the 2015 earthquake, Shrestha started wandering the streets of Kathmandu, taking pictures from his phone. “Despite the big changes I still recognized the old city that shaped me when I grew up. Sometimes we are overwhelmed by the pollution and the busy life of Kathmandu but sooner or later we reconnect with its core and its vibrancy,” says Shrestha. “Earthquake was the main inspiration behind these pictures. I wanted to capture people’s lives after such a big disaster.”
The artist uses silk screen to transfer the pictures to the paper. Silk screen painting is an ancient technique that is these days mainly used for printing images and designs on t-shirts, tote bags and other materials. It is rarely used for photographs.
He has worked as a freelancer with different advertising agencies and film producers to create award-winning (motion) graphics and designs. He plays with different graphic styles but mainly wants to show what makes the city so timeless and vibrant. Curator Saroj Mahato from the BAC calls the work “subtle and contemporary”.
The exhibition at the BAC runs from Dec 8 to Jan 15.