Powell does not just portray what is literal. These are hyper-realistic impressions taken to another realm by his artistic genius. There is an added dimension inaccessible to the human eye, or even to the camera. Reality mingles with the artist’s own impression.
Take, for example, his drawing of Taka, a Magar village in Rolpa, which depicts a 3-storeyed structure seen from above. The surface appears as if in motion with the viewer almost hovering overhead, as the hat-like granaries on the flat roof leap out of the frame. The rows of houses represent the Magar marriage system in architectural form: matrilineal unions between cousins across 3 lineages.
Mustang in shadows and light, Kunda Dixit
Niels Gutschow Leaves Home, Ashish Dhakal
The painting of a temple with an overgrown pipal shows the carved arch interlocked between the Kirtimukha and the trunk, both vying to devour it. Much of the front façade has crumbled and the bricks lie about as the tree lifts the shrine. Inside is a solitary shivalinga, displaced or at home among nature, one cannot say.
The interaction between natural and human structures is what ties together Robert’s work, even though the paintings themselves are not peopled. The houses, windows, lonely temples, and even thowo (row of piled up stones) – all are either placed amidst nature or built of natural materials. Earthy pigments of ochre, yellow, white, colour the canvas in thin effervescent layers.