Swosti Rajbhandari Kayastha is a cultural heritage scholar and a museum and gallery professional working with Nepal Art Council as curator and PR officer. She enjoys curating exhibitions and making educational programs for exhibitions and writes articles related to Nepali art and culture. She has curated for Nepal Art Council, India Art fare, Nepal Art Now, Pauwa paintings, Pashupati Museum curation, Sinduligadi Museum, Palpa Museum and also submitted a concept paper at the National Museum.
Tell us about Deities of Nepal.
Deities of Nepal exhibition is the first large scale thematic exhibition in Nepal. The exhibition was dedicated to the council's former chairperson late Satya Mohan Joshi to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of Nepal Art Council and 50th anniversary of the Federation of Handicraft Associations of Nepal (FHAN). The exhibition showcased artworks of Nepali artists only, both for sale and display.
What was the theme of 'Deities of Nepal' exhibition?
The title “Deities of Nepal” itself was the theme of the exhibition.
What were the highlights of the exhibition?
Folk arts, contemporary arts, and traditional arts were highlighted the most. We also had a lecture series ICCR (Indian Center for Culture Relationship) during the exhibition at the Indian Embassy with the collaboration of two of the scholars each from India and Nepal. Another highlight was the guided tour, also the art education program where around students of 30 schools attended. The next highlight was the presentation of innovative art and design products by various business owners in seven booths that complemented modern lifestyle. We witnessed a well-explained presentation of Nag puja from Mithila culture. We also received Bhimratharohan and Indra Jatra's installations from Kathmandu.
What artworks were presented at the exhibition?
The artworks ranged from paintings to statues. Paintings covered Thanka as well as the wall and others. The statues of different deities and monuments were presented as well.
Which artwork was the most admired?
Many of the guests left us with their thoughts and insights. Almost all expressed appreciation. Some people visiting twice and thrice was in itself a good sign for the exhibition to be admired.
How were all the artworks collected?
For this exhibition, we gathered works by all senior as well as younger artists that were inspired by the Nepali deities Lokkala, Samasamyik kala, and Paramparagat kala. About 650–700 artworks from 190 artists were received. We asked that at least 5 of the thematic artworks be supplied as photos for the selection process; 245 of the selected artworks were then shown in accordance to the space available.
Which deities were presented in the exhibition?
Among Hindu deities, we had Panchatatwa, Navagraha, mandal, Brahma- Vishnu- Mahesh, ten avatars of Lord Vishnu, Ardhanageshwor of shiva, Shiva shakti, Shakti, Buddha, Adi-Buddha, Pancha- Buddha, Lokeshwor, Yogini, Sambara, Siddhapurush, Tara, Mahankal, Bhairab, Indra and many more.
What are your future plans?
As the Nepal Art Council was created to support and promote Nepali artists, there will be other exhibitions with other themes. With artists from Nepal, we had taken part in an international exhibition.
How well did the exhibition go?
‘Deities of Nepal’ in the ongoing exhibition trend was ground-breaking. At least 350 viewers paid a visit to the exhibition. There were some daily visitors as well. Grandparents were found taking their grandchildren to the exhibition. The number of visitors increased till the last day which was extended. The presence of senior citizens and a large number of visitors made the exhibition ground-breaking.