Etched in our memory

Saurganga Darshandhari with her painting. Photos: Prakriti Kandel


Saurganga Darshandhari’s Stories is a collection of etchings inspired by moments from her life. Through her art, the Nepali visual artists and printmaker tackles themes like the human bond with nature, time as it has evolved since her childhood and about social evolution.

Darshandhari is a trained fine artist who has a Masters degree in printmaking. In Stories, she uses a technique she knows well -- the etchings are initially carved into metal, then coloured, and finally transferred to print, which is the final work we see. 

Almost every piece features people who are having conversations or are immersed in nature. But all the faces are empty. “Giving a face would limit the experience to that particular person, but without a face, the character could be anyone,” explains the artist.  

Darshandhari is deeply inspired by the joy nature brings to humans, and natural elements like birds, fish, lotus, peacock, leaves, vines, feature prominently. Clouds intersperse many etchings and symbolise how transient moments in life are. We cannot hold clouds no matter how massive they are, moments also melt away with time. The lotus is another recurring element. It is a flower that emerges from the water to bloom and Darhandhari uses them as symbols of that struggle. 

Even though the artist uses ordinary subjects in her etchings, her presentation and how she weaves the elements together create an almost fantasy-like feeling. In ‘Unknowingly shifting’, the moon is pink and filled with vines against a midnight blue sky. Three aged people in Nepali clothing are riding atop a gigantic, white swan, journeying smoothly, a rendering of migration.   

In ‘Yomari’, the Newa delicacy takes the role of a ship with a woman ensconced on a gigantic yomari. Other tiny ones are spread below it like fish, the purple splash adds to its mystery. ‘Mero ama ko thaili’ is a series that pays tribute to the artist’s mother and her childhood. 

“I grew up through the money in my mother’s thaili, which jingled with the sound of coins. Those coins do not have the same significance now as in my childhood because of paper money or credit cards,” Darshanadari explains. The thailis are presented in varied styles, designs and backdrops, telling stories of their own. 


Traditional elements interject the etchings from the chaubandi  that women wear, to the traditional architecture in the background. Traditional lotus pedestals form the feet of her persona, conveying the message that we must respect ourselves first.   

Darshandhari also explores technology’s encroaching impact on human life. In ‘Time’, logos of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WeChat replace eyes and the brand names of famous technology companies cascade down the t-shirt of the character.

The details in Darshandhari’s art, the interactions between elements, her use of colour and shape all integrate to convey ordinary stories from a unique perspective. She makes us think about the beauty of nature to the influence of technology.


Saurganga Darshandhari 

Siddhartha Art Galley, Baber Mahal Revisited

Until 23 March 

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