Three columns stand in the tower – two on one side and one inside a narrow opening opposite. These are unique columns, which came from Pondicherry in India, wide at the base, and tapered rather sharply at the top. The lonely column on the other side is painted red, as is the top of the wall inside. This colour is a recurring motif with Gutschow. “Red is an important colour, almost like my trademark. It is the colour of blood, and especially associated with life and death,” he adds.
Red also has ritualistic significance in Hinduism and Buddhism, and is the colour of the sun in mornings and evenings. Gutschow would not reveal the mystery of the coloured circles in the guest house, but perhaps they too represent the same sense of duality: of life and death, of dawn and dusk, of Nepal and Germany.
However, Gutschow is cautious with hasty interpretations, since in art they can often allude to a notion of functionality, and an object is reduced simply to its utility. “But form does not need to follow function,” he says as we walk away from the tower towards the house.
“The lonely pillar stands in the space as an aesthetic choice, an object to be appreciated as itself,” he says.
It is the same with the anthropomorphic façade of his study tower, where two window panels that function as eyes are separated in the middle by a wooden arch which is the nose. Above the eyes, the cornice serves as eyebrows and there in the central axis sits a small block carved into a third eye. This is a prime example of the “impulse to adorn” which features heavily in the architectural practice of Bhaktapur, where decorations serve a pure aesthetic purpose.