If you are visiting Lalitpur, the city of the arts, do make a point to take a look around the numerous workshops in Patan Industrial Estate. You’ll be pleasantly surprised, maybe even astonished, to see such a wealth of artistic talent within its premises. Take for instance, Arnico Stone Carving. Enter its doors and you’ll be greeted by a massive stone statue of Lord Ganesha, a statue that weighs 10 tons and stands 18 feet tall. It’s a masterpiece of stone craft, commissioned by Tansen municipality in mid western Nepal. Go into the showroom and you’ll find scores of beautifully sculpted idols of various deities, along with other objects of a religious nature. The one responsible for such an impressive body of work is Dharma Raj Shakya, one of the foremost stone sculptors of Nepal.
If you want to feast your eyes on some wonderful works in metal, then visit Nepal Dhalaut Udhyog, where you’ll find a lot of deity idols, some large lion heads, and quite a few bells, in both bronze and brass. The last are actually the specialty of this establishment, and it is just one of the very few makers of bells in the country. These bells come in all sizes, from small (25 kg) to really, really huge sized ones. Till some months back, a 3000 kg bell used to hang outside its doors; now this bell adorns a temple in Bhaktapur district. Much of the intricate carvings on the bells are the handiwork of the company’s owner, Pragati Ratna Shakya, while many of the other works are done by his assistants at the workshop, as well as by commissioned artisans in a locality called Okubahal that has a reputation as the center for metal sculptors.
As said before, the Estate has numerous other workshops, and one that’s highly reputed for wood work is Purna Woodcarving Industries. It’s a pretty big establishment, and you’ll find a lot of wood carvers busy making a diverse range of wood craft, among which, finely carved windows that are quite mammoth in size are sure to catch the eye. Apparently, this organization has some pretty impressive works abroad to its credit, including a temple in Singapore and one other in Disneyland in Florida, U.S.A. The mammoth windows are also meant to be installed in some hotels in Tibet. In line with the size of its business, the organization also has a workshop in Bungamati, which is known for its skilled woodcarvers.
If you are interested in paintings, go down to Kandevsthan near the Thapathali Bridge, close to where are located the studios of the Kasthamandap Art Group, which consists of six very talented young artists, each with a style of his/her own. All of them have individually earned a fair bit of name and fame in the Valley’s art world; yet, credit it to their innate humility and sense of consideration that they have remained a cohesive unit for more than a decade now. In fact, in addition to solo exhibitions, they also regularly put up group exhibitions, which are quite highly anticipated by art lovers.
The group members—Asha Dangol, Erina Tamrakar, Bhairaj Maharjan, Binod Pradhan, Pradip Bajracharya, and Pramila Bajracharya—are all in their thirties, and a most pleasant group to be around, such are their personalities. Despite the fact that they have won numerous awards, and are well known, the one thing that really is striking is their humble demeanor. While all of them describe their works as being semi abstract, it is obvious to the viewer that there are distinct differences in their styles. While many of Asha’s works are graphic illustrations of a mixture of traditional and contemporary subjects, his wife Erina’s canvases are full of feminine figures in all sorts of situations and poses. The outstanding way in which they are portrayed is to be appreciated.
Bhairaj’s works are strong depictions of day-to-day activities of women, mostly, and they are so pleasingly depicted that one gets the feeling of witnessing secret moments through the artist’s eyes. Binod, on the other hand, specializes in architectural aspects, primarily cityscapes and temples, as well as portrayals of common folk busy with their daily chores. He uses vibrant colors and interesting textures, and plays around with light and shade. Pradip’s canvases pulsate with exciting images of the colorful festivals of the Valley, and it is his particular ability to bring to life the revelry and vibrancy of such occasions. Pramila can be classified as an artist whose forte is landscapes. However, her landscapes are like no other, being of a very original nature, and always abstract. So, no matter what your own preference is, no matter what sort of art attracts your finer sense, you’ll probably find it at the group’s studios.
The above are but a few examples of the kind of talent you’ll discover in the Valley, more so in Lalitpur. And, undoubtedly, you’ll agree that, indeed, one of Nepal’s greatest riches is its abundance of highly talented artists and artisans.