The sky is the limit for photography on canvas

Wind Horse’s latest contemporary exhibition looks upwards through a blend of genres and techniques


Contemporary videographer and photographer Aakash Pradhan’s latest show at Wind Horse Gallery in Jhamsikhel comes across as being a quiet affair. But Corny Clouds, curated by Ujen Norbu Gurung, is far from the mawkishly sentimental.

It leads the viewer through the glass doors into a dimly-lit corridor which has a calming atmosphere – quite literally, as on the walls one finds variously sized photography-on-canvases of the sky.

The first are part of a triptych, ‘Nothing But Good Energy’. Large canvases as blue as the word ‘clear’ itself. The colour gradient shifts concentrically around a brilliant sun, as amorphous clouds trail in. The canvas in the middle shows a snowy mountain peak rising from the bottom-left corner. But what hour is it -- early morning or late afternoon? There is no telling, and, at the same time, perhaps it does not matter. What we are asked to view here is the sky itself, in its many forms and moods.

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Right across are two more canvases ‘Was Good Till It Lasted’ which show markedly different skies in juxtaposition to the striking blue. The colours are warmer, with swirling shades of pink, orange and purple, like the ether in twilight or breaking dawn.

A sliver of the crescent moon sits in one while a brilliant golden dot in another, as a mass of shaded clouds gathers under them. If ‘Nothing But Good Energy’ gave one a sense of an impending adventure, a flight, ‘Was Good Till It Lasted’ reminds one to pause, consider oneself, and be grateful for the beauty around.

Elsewhere, a group of three smaller canvases present an almost cinematic look at the city. ‘5’o clock in the morning’ appears as though one zooms out from the brilliant yellow orb in the sky above dark hills to find an array of high-rise buildings and houses under the sky. While from the right, it is the exact opposite direction. There is, of course, no right or wrong motion: one either moves deeper into the vastness of the sky or reckons with the sprawling civilisation around us.

Drawing in from Pradhan’s vast experience in photography and videography, the exhibition is an intriguing cross-genre excursion. At the centre of the gallery, a video of clouds in motion is projected on to the wall, and in the adjoining chamber a series of nine works displaying absorbing experimentation with form and content. Clever collages, almost psychedelic in nature, ask the viewers to interact with spirituality and consciousness. Declutter your mind, they seem to say, and open yourself to a dazzling alteration of themes.

The saying 'The sky is the same everywhere' takes on an interesting tune among Pradhan’s works. One look above and we immediately become aware of the expanse, whether from Lalitpur or the Base Camps or anywhere else in the world. Sometimes it is overcast, sometimes it is absolutely still and clear. But there is a sense of common experience.

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Generations of humans have turned to the sky, adding and uncovering meanings in its folds and colours, sometimes worshipping its vastness. We too share in this experience, as the clouds rearrange themselves in various shapes and sizes. Here a rabbit, there a yaksha, each a different story than the last.

Pradhan's works are inviting, with a subtle promise of familiar exposures. Then then they quickly become more: one must exercise one’s own imagination. The artist shows the door but we have to walk through it ourselves, processing, discovering connections and interpretations.

Corny Clouds

By Aakash Pradhan

Curated by Ujen Norbu Gurung

Wind Horse Gallery, Jhamsikhel

Till 4 February 2023, 11am—6:30pm

Read also: 

Between sand and a hard place, Ashish Dhakal

Nepal by night, Anil Chitrakar

Nepal’s sky can be this clean every day, Ajaya Dixit