Two new galleries in town

Located in a corner behind the big bell in Boudha, Gallery LA (Let’s Art) just completed its first year, representing Kathmandu’s rising trend of littler art galleries. This means galleries can be commercially viable, and artists themselves are at the forefront of the change, holding events and art exhibitions.

Gallery LA was founded by Laxman Bajra Lama and Anisha Maharjan and is holding an exhibition to celebrate its first anniversary. The gallery mostly features the works of young artists and fresh graduates: one work shows a long line of men holding umbrellas over their successors as each generation becomes more modern in outlook, another depicts mushroom clouds as disenchantment with modern warfare, while a man who tries on different devil masks symbolizes confusion in modern society.

“We are trying to encourage young artists,” says Laxman Bajra Lama. “Senior artists can make a living through their art, but the younger ones cannot give all of their time to creative work, and they paint only when they are commissioned to do so.”

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Commercial art with mountain scenery have always sold briskly in Thamel, but selling creative expression has been more difficult. However, with more and more artists becoming enterprising, things are slowly changing. Gallery LA exhibits are priced at anything between Rs5,000 to Rs500,000.

Music Art Gallery Cafe in Jhamsikhel was established last year and has garnered interest among art lovers and buyers in the area frequented by expats. Its ongoing exhibition Ages of Painting features Nepali artists of different generations, from Shashi Shah to Bidhata KC. The expressions range from severe line works depicting Kathmandu, to traditional Mithila paintings and abstract pieces. Realistic paintings of women outside traditional Newar houses depict ongoing innovation in Nepali art, with elements of traditional paubha paintings in modern compositions.

Sagar KC, amateur artist and founder of the gallery, agrees that art is exploring new frontiers of expression, but also cautions that it has a long way to go. “Several new galleries like Classic Art Gallery in Chakupat have opened after we started out, and alternative venues like restaurants and theatres provide space to host art exhibitions, showing there is more interest. But Kathmandu still has a long way to go.”

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