Saturday, October 6, 2007

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.

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