6 MIN READ
Art might be a mirror to the human condition but it is often a reflection of a particular condition, one that is bounded by time and space. A tactile society is likely to produce tactile art and a society in the midst of the information age would likely create more digital art, or at least art that teases, illustrates, and questions the human condition in the digital age.
In Nepal, most art remains analogue. Painting, sculpture, pottery, and woodcarving continue to dominate the artistic landscape with their many practitioners and centuries of history and tradition. Digital art, by comparison, is in its infancy, but growing steadily. Most Nepali artists working primarily in the digital medium tend to be young and technologically-savvy, using tools like Procreate and the iPad to create their distinctive styles of digital art. Straight lines, repeating patterns, colour blocks, all representative of the digital world, are present in these works -- often chopped, screwed, and manipulated to express something indefinable. The lines are cleaner, the colors more defined, the style is distinctly digital, artwork created on a screen, instead of on a canvas or a piece of paper, and manipulated using technology. It’s a bold new medium, more forgiving of errors and more responsive to an amalgamation of styles and influences.
Here are six young Nepali artists with stories to tell, styles of their own, and a passion for the digital arts.
We are two art enthusiast sisters, Keepa Manandhar and Dristi Manandhar, who love to draw.
Professionally, 29-year-old Dristi is a full-time architect based in the US while 24-year-old Keepa is a doctor based in Nepal. Currently pursuing two completely different career paths, we have found commonality in Didibahini and the art we create. We both have very different personalities and preferences and as a result we have our own unique journeys. Our drawings are mostly a reflection of those lived experiences. We love to convey stories about people’s everyday lives through our art. We often draw about social issues and issues regarding mental health as it is something, we are both very passionate about. These are the overarching themes you will consistently see in our drawings. We believe art can play an important role in fostering important discussions and dialogues with people. And we hope to do that with our work. We want to create art that makes people think and reflect.
We are consistently working on our craft and there is still a lot we need to learn and explore. We initially started Didibahini to create a space for both of us to share our art with our family and friends but since then it has grown quite a bit and we are very proud of the amazing, supportive community it has garnered in this short period of time. We have had opportunities to collaborate with the most incredible and talented individuals in this field and we look forward to many more such collaborations. We try our best to stay true and authentic to the art we create, and we hope to continue doing that.
My name is Olisha Shrestha but I go by ‘Kaena’ as my art name. I am 22 and currently studying Bachelor in Business Administration. I usually get along with pencil scribbles and drawings in my free time so I would not call myself a full-time illustrator yet, but I would love to be one someday.
I used to only do traditional art before but I am now more engaged in digital art as it's a good platform to create something and experiment. It is easier for me to experiment digitally by applying the process I learned in traditional art and elaborate on the outcome.
My illustrations try to reflect all that we as humans feel. I have never found my art style and my ideas are never static. My art can sometimes have a vibe of childhood which can be fun and imaginary but also realistic and a little dark, as if the art itself is human.
I am a 30-year-old visual artist and illustrator based in Kathmandu, Nepal. I believe in visual storytelling and its power to start a conversation and raise questions that need asking. My artworks dwell with the moments of life that catch my attention and leave an impression on me and my surroundings. These events reoccur as a visual montage and an array of ideas start forming. These ideas inspire and motivate me to create a story.
My visuals usually lead me to a world mixed with reality and fantasy, which in fact have their roots in the moment I witnessed. Once the idea has formed, it becomes a meditative process of me and the medium. I enjoy sharing such stories with my audience in the hopes that they will enjoy it and reflect on this world as much as I do.
A lot of the elements I play with in my artwork are inspired by comic books, story books, mythical stories, and folklore, all of which I enjoyed as a child and still do nowadays as an adult. These inspirations also become a reference point for creating a world that is unique to my taste. My works usually are in a combination of multiple mediums and they vary in discipline depending upon the concept of the work. Currently, I am savoring the pleasure of working with watercolor, ink and/or digital mediums.
I am a 26-year-old freelance illustrator based in Kathmandu. Inspired by everyday life, I explore and experiment with various media in my work to create visual narratives. My visual narrative creates a nostalgic glimpse into mundane life and experiences that are often overlooked.
My journey began two years ago as a book illustrator for Mera Publications. My debut work, Daring to Dream: Sherpa Women Climbing K2 (2020) featured a series of illustrations that tells the story of the childhood and different struggles of three Nepali Sherpa women who successfully climbed the world’s most dangerous mountain, K2. This project gave me a push to pursue my dreams of becoming a visual storyteller.
Since then, I’ve worked on various projects including children’s books, digital magazines, coloring books, and recently, in animation. I am currently working in the digital medium, which has provided me with more freedom and flexibility to experiment and explore.
I am a 23-year-old freelance digital artist known as Ekanta Pana, based in Kathmandu. I have been drawing and sketching since I was a little kid but what captivated me was discovering digital art two years ago. I dropped out of college in pursuit of my dream and have since worked in many forms of arts, like photography, videography, handicrafts, and graphic design, but nothing drove my passion like digital art. It was not only a choice but a platform for me to make mistakes and learn from them. It opened up a space for me and my imagination, and also allowed me to tackle my own fear and anxiety. Continuously trying to learn from my own emotions and thoughts made me think about art differently. Since I grew up surrounded by art and culture, I had an early grasp of what art could mean. I always believed the true emotional values of one’s craft will always invoke some sort of sensation within the viewers and leave an imprint within them. That has always been my motivation to create. My art is based on emotion, understanding the characters, and the environment.
Artists like Bobby Chiu, Tonko House (Daisuke Tsutsumi & Robert Kondo), and Hayao Miyazaki have influenced my artistic journey. Most of my inspirations come from movies, music, and real-life experiences. I've always believed that whatever you create for yourself with true and honest emotions will most likely reach out to others as well.
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