Thursday, December 6, 2007

People Power in Schorndorf - Germany


Ragini Upadhdaya - Grela / People Power

30. November 2007 | 20.30 Uhr

Grußwort des Oberbürgermeisters von Schorndorf, Herrn Matthias Klopfer

Einführende Worte von Sabine Reichle-Nolle

Es sind vor allem drei Bereiche, zu denen die bekannte nepalische Künstlerin arbeitet: Die Kraft des Weiblichen, die Beschwörung des Friedens und der politische Machtkampf.

Letzterer ist ihr Thema in den Materialdrucken dieser Ausstellung. Die Arbeiten entstanden angesichts der bis heute dauernden Auseinandersetzung zwischen dem ungeliebten König, den traditionellen politischen Parteien und den allgegenwärtigen Maoisten in Nepal.

Aber nicht die politischen Programme interessieren die Künstlerin, sondern die Psychologie der politischen Akteure. Ihren Ehrgeiz, ihr Streben nach Macht stellt sie – manchmal fast karikierend – dar.

Während ihre Formsprache stark von der europäischen Malerei beeinflusst ist (Ragini studierte Kunst u.a. in Stuttgart) greift ihre Symbolik die alten Mythen ihrer Heimat auf: z.B. wenn Ravana, der 10-köpfige Dämon, für den Politiker steht, dessen wahres Gesicht man nie kennt, oder der Stier für das nepalische Volk, das zwar lange braucht, bis es sich in Bewegung setzt, dann aber kaum aufzuhalten ist.

The pictures are here

More about Ragini on :

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Schorndorf exhibition is open

Club Manufaktur in Schorndorf hosts the "People Power" series until the 15/12/2007

The mayor of the city of Schorndorf , Mr. Matthias Klopfer has inaugurated the exhibition and was presented a Nepali topi.

An other prominent guest was the Director of Kulture house, Schorndorf , Ms . Sabine Reichle – Nolle .

Both speakers have presented the artist and the work exhibited
with details and an elaborate understanding of the Nepalese context. This proves how much art and artists act as a bridge between culture and countries.

A recent video documentary about Ragini's work has also been displayed during the inauguration ceremony. The video entitle "Let them bark" highlight the social and cultural depth of the artist's message.

The "People Power" series is a tribute to the popular uprising which restored democratic rule in Nepal in April 2006 often referred as the Andolan 2.

The "People Power " series is available on the Picasa Gallery, just clik here

The video documentary is available on :

More background information is available on :

Monday, December 3, 2007

My exhibition in Edinburgh has closed

My group show with

Nan Mulder, Gea Karhof,and Seema Sharma Shah

at Open Eye Gallery in Edinburgh

The exhibition started on 10th of November 2007. It is a great success with many works sold.

The show is named : Double Vision

It runs from 10th to 28th November 2007

Some more photos are available on my Picasa Gallery just click here

The Open Eye Gallery has a small page with my work, click here to see it but I exhibit more works as show on my gallery RaginiForScotland2007

The second show is in Schorndorf, near Stuttgart, in Germany from the 30th of November to the 14th of December.

The venue is called the Manufaktur and their web site is :

I am very thrilled to meet new people in Scotland and hope to enjoy the reunion with many old friends in Germany.

There is more information about my acquaintance with Germany on my web site in my "German story" pages.

Click here for the "People's Power" gallery.

Some articles about my exhibitions are published in the Kathmandu Post


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Exhibition in Europe November & December 2007

It will start with a group show with

Nan Mulder, Gea Karhof,and Seema Sharma Shah

at Open Eye Gallery in Edinburgh

the show is named : Double Vision, it runs from 10th to 28th November 2007

The Open Eye Gallery has a small page with my work, click here to see it but I plan to exhibit more works as show on my gallery RaginiForScotland2007

The second show is in Schorndorf, near Stuttgart, in Germany from the 30th of November to the 14th of December.

The venue is called the Manufaktur and their web site is :

I am very thrilled to meet new people in Scotland and hope to enjoy the reunion with many old friends in Germany.

There is more information about my acquaintance with Germany on my web site in my "German story" pages.

Click here the "People's Power" gallery.


People's Power 1990-2006

For a man fully uneducated in any of the art forms, I had the good fortune of coming across Ragini Upadhyay Grela some ten years ago. In fact, I had sought her out – for a special reason. Tired of speaking to and hearing one another in various regional seminars and dialogues, some of us in the “South Asian civil society” thought of the possibility and the value of bringing together a special group of people to see how creative imagination addresses the social themes engaging our minds at the time. Accordingly, in Dhaka in February 1997, South Asian women and men representing different art forms including literature, the theatre, performing arts and painting and sculpture assembled to make their presentations and share ideas and imaginations on such enduring themes as women in society, social justice and fundamentalism and communalism. Raginiji was there from Nepal and she did us proud. She left lasting impression with the assembled South Asian community with her presentation and paintings on the theme of women and freedom.

Through her series of paintings including Samaya Chakra Raginiji has shown how her journey in “arts for life’s sake” continues merrily. Happily for all of us, she did not shy away from making her presence felt also in the street as we campaigned peacefully for Loktantra. In the current series of her paintings, she has now ably captured for us the soul and the might of the people’s power that is transforming Nepali politics and society for good. That she has decided to donate a substantial part of the sale proceeds to the families of the martyrs in Nepal’s democratic movement speaks volumes on how Raginiji thinks about her work and the lives of the Nepali people.

Devendra Raj Panday

Citizens’ Movement for Democracy and Peace

Click here to see the pictures of "People's Power 1990-2006"

The exhibition was very succesful and was opened by Dpty Prime Minister K.P. Oli, click here for the picture

NEW! Let Them Bark: A Portrait of the Artist Ragini (10 min)

I am extremely honored that Emma Cott and Adrianne Koteen have produced a 10 minutes documentary about my work. It was done during the early winter of 2006 and is entitled "Let them bark".

It is quite good and you can click here to download it (22 MB) It is a Flash Video file (flv) so you need an adequate player. ( to get one you may visit

For those with patience or a good bandwidth, there is a mp4 version (42 Mb) at the following URL :

You should also visit the presentation of the movie on Emma and Adrienne documentary page. You will find there a button to view the streamlined movie.

My fully structured web site is and a lot of my works are displayed on

Politics of Wheel by Abhi Subedi

Abhi Subedi has always written the most elaborate and profound review of my exhibitions. With "Politics of Wheel" he again succeed to express in words the message I try to elaborate in my images. The Time Series pictures are on :

His article was originally published in the Kathmandu Post (2005-05-18)

Politics of wheel


- The walls of Sangita Thapa's Siddhartha Art Gallery at Babarmahal Revisited have become vertical stage to me. Over the year I have watched the Nepali times, the somersaults of this nation's history staged on these non-descript walls. After the drama of Nepali violent history presented almost in a neo-realist style by Durga Baral last winter on these walls, a series of drawings, etching and mixed media works executed by artist Ragini Upadhyaya Grela titled "Time Wheel" representing political times are on display at the moment. Siddhartha gallery has become a next Gurukul where the drama of politics and the spectres created by Nepali power games are staged time and again. Incidentally, Ragini's exhibition was opened with the performance of a short silent play about time by the Gurukul artists. Saugat Malla's powerful body theatre presented the drama of time that surges ahead leaving those who can or can not grab it behind.

An overtly political drama if it is hung on the walls of the gallery of art becomes a cliché, evoking banality and creating déjà vu effect. Conspicuous walls in the metropolitan areas become the stage especially when the times in the national history become turbulent. Demonstrators, political activists, rebels and propagandists use the walls to stage their different versions of drama in the forms of posters, wall scribbles, drawings and sometimes just colours. But the walls of a regular art gallery hang more structured images and icons of political history. Ragini's drawings and intaglio works have brought new power and new condition of watching the subtleties of Nepali politics on the wall-stage of Siddhartha gallery at the moment. At this exhibition of the works, great number of which are already sold out, the artist Ragini Upadhyaya Grela wearing long vertical tika of a serious yogin on her forehead escorts the visitors giving eloquent speech about the themes of her works. I try my best to avoid her interpretation and concentrate on her works because there is a great gap and a necessary one between her theorising which sounds sometimes banal, and her strong and charming works that hang on both the upper and lower floors of Siddhartha.

Ragini theorises that time is evanescent; those people who were there in the past are no longer there today and we too will go away one day. These places will continue to exist and we will not be there. Time is mightier than all of us. That is her linear theory about time. An artist does not have to be a Bergeson, a Nietzsche, a Balakrishna Sama or a Michel Foucault to talk about the intricacies of the times. The artist has her/his way of looking into the philosophical questions. The most important trajectory that an artist follows to get into a philosophical world is created through mythology. But what an artist does through the medium of her works is beyond the capacity of many philosophers.

Ragini combines politics, myth and love in each of her works. The images of Nepali politics from Damodar Pande to Sher Bahadur Deuba on the people's front and the Shah monarchs on the royal front become part of Ragini's historical philosophy as conjured through a system of mythology, and her works are strong and striking.

The concept of wheel in this exhibition is remarkably original. The wheel of time or the politics of wheel is the main metaphor. Ragini's drawings and collage works create a circular concept of time. The clock-like circularity is created by the collage of Nepali power wielders' photographs--from the monarchs of the Shah dynasty to the prime ministers that ends with Deuba in the circle. Ragini's vision of the wheel is mytho-poetic. She finds the historical times as constructed history. Time without politics and persona is amorphous for her. But time measured with the people who have held power and created the Nepali times runs the risk of representing times that are not seen from the eyes of the common people. An artist's responsibility is to open the possibility of viewing the times from fresh perspectives. To see time from the positions and durations spanned by the rule of the powerful persons is to create a politics of wheel power. Many power players have created such images of history. Now we have a tendency to deconstruct the concept of controlled times.

But the power of Ragini's works lies in the very quality of the works. She is the best intaglio artist in Nepal who creates very subtle effects in her works. The minute details are taken care of. She paints and touches the etchings with love, life and colour. The drawings, etching and mixed media works on display at Sidhartha precisely show that. These works lure the viewers into the world of history, politics and myth by using the metaphor "wheel of time" which is the charming recreation of the myth that combines dreams with the sense of finality. But the love of life and continuity becomes stronger in these works because of the artist's subtle treatment of subject through the use of lines, colours and figurality.

Wayne Amtzis poems

Wayne is an old friend who has been inspired to write some poems based on my work (unfortunately for my ego he writes about other artists too.)

His web site is :


A human mask: a peacock-tailed cow gazes at us

Shank-ed and torso-ed within, a peacock-effaced woman dances;

Bird of dreams hoisted on her shoulder and outreaching arm

A key around the cow's neck, a lotus for teats

and a hand, like those that smear the space behind her,

stamped on the cow's hind leg

Heavy, stable, secure

implacable presence, not a cow

or a lion, but cow

-mother, lion

-mother, that will not

abandon her progeny--though torn from her

they be scattered over the earth

Hands on her body and dwelling place,

signs of the forces she submits to, the violence willed against her

Peaceful, yet indomitable

There's no moving these mythic beings

from their rightful place at the center of creation

To become one with the cow mother,

the peacock dreamer, the woman dancing, the lotus nurturing,

take the key from the cow's neck,

and remove your handprints from her thigh

Soon…soon… For…

Familial and haunting, magnetic and morph-like,

this unaccountable creative force,

these emblems of forbearance, signs for what outlasts

and precedes us,

Ragini's menagerie,

so familiar and unfamiliar,

from another world, are revelatory glimpses of the world we inhabit

or (like Pig with topi and shoe)

explicit condemnation of those who can no longer

dissemble that world


Flower bearing snake

and distant city; beneath your shadow,

a man and woman, a river flowing

Snake-tailed monkeys dance,

rubbing bodies, rubbing lips, the city in their hands

How is it these beasts, feigning innocence, defy gravity,

never falling from the world they trample?

Flame-footed, beak-footed, lotus-footed, stair-footed

female-faced lion, the sun balanced on your snout, your tail aflame,

your many lucky numbers secreted within

Legs shackled, turning inward and away,

your bird-beaked and winged-women, keys in hand,

gather force


that will not be tamed

Big-bellied pig, your sock & shoe-fitted foot

strutting sure, how happily you balance and sniff that worm gnawed apple

So full of shit, flowers and weeds root on your back

Your topi seems out of place. So small a cap for one so large in girth

and single-minded in greed

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Ragini Upadhyaya-Grela comes out with an appeal for amity in her latest exhibition

SPOTLIGHT, 23-8-2002

Peace Pursuit

Ragini Upadhyaya-Grela comes out with an appeal for amity in her latest exhibition


Ragini's painting: Picture of peace The last one and a half years have been tumultuous, to say the least. Whether on the domestic or international front, events so tragic and so barbaric have happened in this period that many an artist has been passionately moved. Ragini Upadhyaya-Grela is one such painter who, after being disturbed by the events, chose to vent her pent-up feelings through the media she is best accustomed with. Ragini, a reputed artist known for her distinctive styles, highly symbolic and thematic presentations, displayed scores of paintings she had made after being overcome with emotions following the three major events of the last 15 months - the June 1, 2001 royal palace tragedy, the 9/11 attacks and the destruction of Bamiyan Buddhas. After organizing more than 30 solo and several group exhibitions including international ones, she came out this week with her latest works titled "The Sun Never Dies, Buddha's Light and Truth Shines". The exhibition, which opened at the Siddhartha Art Gallery on August 16, will continue until September 15. The title of the exhibition is enough to summarize her works. Mainly, they revolve around the three dreadful events of the last 15 months, which have left a deep imprint on the psychology of people all over the world. Among her 29 paintings, "Buddha on 1st June", "Eleventh September" and "Bamiyan Buddha 2001" respectively demonstrate an artist's perspectives on these events. Her other works also support the theme of the paintings and are replete with their own peculiarities. The artist presents the sun as a symbol of truth that never dies. Explaining her work titled "Eye of Truth", she said, "Truth is the sun which has so many eyes to see." She compares it with a human eye, and she has painted it in her canvas. Moreover, her concern for peace can be seen in each of her paintings. She says that the events are a blow to humanity and culture. "We have forgotten the path to truth, wisdom and peace", she said. She has made an appeal for peace through her exclusive and heart-rending art. Her paintings explore the trouble and agony of peace lovers around the world whenever mankind is faced with such violent events. Among her works, "Truth Never Dies", "Buddha, Truth and Sun", "Buddha's Feet", "Eye of Truth", "Eleventh September", and "Bamiyan Buddha 2001" drew the attention of most of the spectators. One viewer responded that the artist was quite successful in delivering the message of peace.

More about Ragini Odyssey 2001

Womanhood unbound

Kathmandu, Sunday, February 18, 2001 Fagun 07 2057.

There are altogether 38 paintings and etchings on display at the Siddhartha Art Gallery in Baber Mahal. They are reflections on our society, women, love and the political scenario. The exhibition will run through March 10.

The most creative and well crafted painting is that of a horse, which is looking backwards as if looking back at our society. The horse is also a symbol of one of the swiftest animals something like our feelings. Its price stands at Rs 35,000.

Another eye catching painting, "Sungurko Mukhama Shyau" (pig with an apple in its mouth) is something that you just cannot ignore though it hangs in a corner of the room upstairs. An apple is a symbol of honesty. The pig with its almost swollen belly is trying to cover up its evil intentions and guile. This is of course a satire on politicians and corruption. But the pig has other interesting decorations suggesting that we respect them whether corrupt or not. Don’t miss the pig wearing only one shoe. It is modestly priced at Rs 1,50,000.

Another interesting piece is "Musical Chairs". It has Kathmandu in the middle surrounded by snakes connotating our earthly desires. The creation of this theme was borrowed from the concept of the game musical chairs which we have played in childhood and which is still played by children. And you can win the game if you are smart and cheat a little.

The etching showing Kathmandu in the centre and a group of sheep surrounding the city, illustrates our tendency to herd-like behaviour. Something like the Hritik Roshan incident. The rhinoceros suggests that we have become like its skin -- hard and unfeeling without any emotions.

"Kathmandu with monkeys" with a price tag of Rs 15,000 is also a highlight and is based on a well known Nepali maxim "Bandar ko hath ma nariwal" (coconuts in the hands of monkeys) implying that we mess up whatever we get.

The strong and stubborn creative energy of an experimenting woman artist is seen sprouting forth in many of these works, mainly through the use of animal symbols. And that woman artist is Ragini Upadhaya Grela who strongly feels about the marginalised situation of women in our society. And many of her paintings portraying women and goddesses show them under lock and key.

Ragini explains that "a woman has the power of the goddess Durga and she has the power to open the doors of freedom". Whenever you see paintings of animals with human faces and semi human bodies carved on the animals with lock and key, then you can make out that it is painted by none other than Ragini. But nevertheless she’s one of the top five women artists in Nepal and you can neither ignore her work nor her energy and her dominant voice. Sangeeta Thapa, the director of Siddhartha Art Gallery mentions that, "On the opening day, Rs 400000 of Ragini’s paintings were sold just within 2 hours setting a record for the gallery".

The Weekly Magazine Of The Kathmandu Post
Kathmandu, Sunday, February 18, 2001 Fagun 07 2057.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

I do art for life’s sake

I do art for life’s sake :Ragini

By Shraddha Shrestha

KATHMANDU, Feb 20 - After two years of extensive work, Ragini Upadhyay Grela has come up with 38 paintings. Her exhibition "Ragini’s Odyssey 2001" is currently on display at the Siddhartha Art Gallery, Babar Mahal.

The paintings and sketches carry a certain vagueness at first glance, especially to those who do not have an eye for art. At closer inspection, however, feel what the paintings are trying to express.

But nothing can beat Ragini’s own explanations for the paintings she is exhibiting. They unravel and verify everything on the canvas.

Her paintings proclaim the strength of women over men. For her, man is the fire and woman, water.

"I do not do art just for art’s sake, art is life for me," says Ragini.

She has made her name in national and international circles with her paintings. Her first exhibition was held in 1979 at NAFA and she has exhibited her works in Germany, Japan, Sweden, Belgium, Finland, Pakistan, Taiwan and India.

Her paintings portray the current social and political status of the nation. Almost all of her paintings incorporate snakes and eyes. The snake, according to her, is the figure of desire for love, money, sex and power. And eyes are the symbol of sensitivity that prevails in every human being.

The reason for using snakes in her paintings, as she feels is that despite the garland of snake around the neck of Lord Shiva he himself is free from desire. Similarly, a snake exists within every human being, but one should possess the strength to keep this desire in check. If this desire takes over then all is not well.

In an interesting piece entitled "Musical Chair" snakes are used to illustrate the desire for the chair among politicians. Only a little bit of trickery is needed to win the chair and the game is all yours. It also symbolises the anarchy pervading the present political system.

Another painting shows the country being gnawed away at by mice with human faces. It traces the outgoing human nature and also reveals the current corruption that’s going on over our heads while we remain powerless to do anything about it.

The painting seems to symbolize the nature of a mouse present in the human being, eating away the country piece by piece.

A well-known Nepali maxim - "Bandar ko hat ma nariwal" (coconuts in the hands of monkey), is demonstrated in one of her paintings but eggs replace the coconuts. For her, eggs are the symbol of fertility and life, and need lots of care, warmth and affection to grow. In her opinion, it is the same with democracy. Proper care is needed to handle it or else major complications will ensue.

For her, goddesses Saraswati, Durga and Laxmi are the three most powerful goddesses. This portrayal is shown clearly in her art.

Women have the power and will to prove themselves but all their feelings are locked within - due to social restrictions.

"All women possess the key to open the lock of their feelings and desires. I urge women to open the lock to our divinely-gifted self. Once we do so we will come to terms with our potential," says Ragini.

Women’s repression which is locked within them is clearly portrayed by taking the beam of animals and goddesses.

She pours out her frustrations and fascinations with womanhood in her paintings.

According to her, women intermix in each and every step of happiness and sorrow of life, giving love and affection to all. This is why she ressembles water and the flow of water. As women resemble water, men resemble fire - she believes that water is more powerful than fire.

"I have tried to express social truths in my art. The exhibition illustrates the social and political situation in Nepal from an artistic point of view," says Ragini. "Women must realise that they hold the key to their own creativity and power."


Click here for the photos of the inauguration

More about Ragini on :

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

An attempt to expand the

Albert (my husband) has worked hard and for a long time on the fully structured web site which every body should visit. But the host of the site does not allow an increment of the space available, too bad for Albert efforts to provide a well woven and fully integrated vision of my artistic work and the press, and the audience comments and sale results.... So, we will try the blog to keep things easy and up to date with links and pics and whatever the Internet can provide.

In short, the people interested by my work should look at


the very rich gallery