Finding Asha Dangol’s studio was easy. We walked behind a prominent landmark, the Sarbhangha Hospital in Kupondol, and there it was. He was waiting patiently for us and welcomed us with a handshake. We were then given a tour of his studio which was filled with his paintings. A very well-known contemporary artist today, Asha was keen on studying art since his school days. His interest had been aroused by a biology book which required students to draw detailed diagrams. This drew him into the arts and so he decided to plunge into the world of art. A graduate of Fine Arts from Tribhuvan University, he completed his Masters degree in 2010. “Art is an academic course that one must take up during school, but as a professional artist, I define art as a profession that completes my life,” says Asha. He used to take art classes after school and now that he has mastered it, he has made a name for himself.
Asha Dangol’s works are story based and also depict social issues very expressively. Of late, one of his favorite themes has been pollution which he depicts in many of his paintings. He likes to take traditional art and merge them with his imaginative ideas to create beautiful paintings. He also finds inspiration in Pauba paintings and other traditional arts and works closely with Mithila artists who have a distinct style all of their own. He is recently working on a piece that deals with pollution on the world’s highest mountain, Everest. “I feel sad when I hear that Mt. Everest has become the world’s highest dumping ground. So to bring awareness through my art, I have started working on this painting,” says Dangol. He has been working with a well-known artist, his wife Erina Tamrakar since 2010. It takes him around two weeks to one month to complete a painting.
Asha feels there is a dearth of proper art galleries as well as art collectors in Nepal, so as an artist the main challenges he faces, is the lack of a good art market. Artists in general don’t have marketing skills, nor do they have promotion skills; their skills are limited to the techniques of painting, so it is difficult for them to go out in the market to sell their art work by themselves. “Siddhartha Art Gallery, Nepal Art Council and J.K Art Museum in Pokhara are some of the galleries where you can find my paintings. I have a network of artists, so I get called by other international artists to display my art work, and to represent Nepal and vice versa. So far I have exhibited my works in countries like Japan, USA, India, China, Korea and others. It is heartening that Nepal’s art has been recently enjoying the spotlight in western countries,” informs Dangol. He has had 14 solo exhibitions and one retrospective show in Nepal and his works have also been exhibited in many different countries. He has participated in national and international art camps, workshops and residency programs as well.
Dangol has been painting for almost 27 years and has an online gallery E-arts Nepal, which he established in 2010, with an artist friend and a businesswoman. All Nepali art has to be online, and it should be promoted to bring awareness around the world about the talent that Nepali artists possess. The Kasthamandap artist group was founded in 1994 and Asha was co-founder of both Kasthamandap and E-arts Nepal. E-arts Nepal has a collection of the works of more than 16 contemporary artists that are up for sale. It also functions as a platform for up and coming artists to promote their paintings.
Asha was a recipient of the Arniko Youth Award in 2003. Then in 2005, he received the ‘Best Prize – during the National Film Festival. He also won the First Prize at the National Art Exhibition awarded by Nepal Association of Fine Arts (NAFA) in 2006’. In 2013, he won the ‘Special Regional Award at the National Art Exhibition organized by the Nepal Academy of Fine Arts. He was a recipient of the NAC Travel Grant 2015 & 2016 from Nepal Art Council and later received a Vienna Travel Grant from Welt Museum Wien in 2019.His works are being exhibited in Vienna, Austria as part of the “Nepal Art Now” exhibition at the Welt Museum.
“With more opportunities for upcoming Nepali contemporary artists, who are passionate, and dedicated, and by organizing regular exchange programs and art festivals in Kathmandu, I feel that in future, the Nepali contemporary artist scene will be much better,” concludes a hopeful Asha Dangol.
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