Turbulent times


Ishan Pariyar did not intend for his exhibition at Siddhartha Art Gallery to coincide with the raging protests down the street against the Guthi Bill, but it so happened that it did. Pariyar’s series, started in 2015, seems prescient today: a crane moves in to dismantle heritage buildings, whose lion-like guardians rise up to form a protective guard of honour around the structures.

Titled Reminiscences, the paintings are a voice raised for the protection of our culture and heritage, although the artist says he is not an activist.

Most of his work depicts boats at sea. “Water is a symbol of time, and the boats are a symbol of life,” says the artist. “I have used boats because they take you from one place to another. Here, the boats take us on the journey of life through time.”

Many of the boats contain statues of deities: a golden Avalokiteswar and a large, red-hued Bhairav, among others. Pariyar says the deities symbolise our faith and the traditions they embody. As the boats ply vast bodies of water, sometimes gently floating and sometimes rocked by the waves, some deities floating as the boats capsize, the viewer gets the sense that the gods are delicate, fragile figures. They need protection, like our heritage.

Read also: Mithila art with a message, Prakriti Kandel

For Pariyar, it is all part of looking back at history. He sees the deities as the end product of a long process of evolution, and believes that the faith they embody leads to spiritual growth.

“Religious monuments are witness to different times and eras, and the moments we are breathing are the reminiscences for the future,” says Pariyar. “The eternal and invisible force of the divine is imprinted in our psyche, thus giving us inspiration to preserve these ancient monuments and beliefs.”

Every inch of Pariyar’s paintings is covered by unique textures. The artist is from Pokhara, hence the images of boats, but unlike the colourful ones floating on Phewa Lake his vessels are covered in wood carvings of Kathmandu’s monuments, in earthy browns and dark greys. Lion-like and garuda-like figures appear often protecting temples, the golden sculptures contrasting starkly with the watery background.

Read also: New Newa Art, Sewa Bhattarai

The seas and oceans are rendered in minute, oval droplets, even when the colour ranges from a peaceful blue to menacing, stormy green. Pariyar says the texture is of a bitter gourd, because life is bitter and there is no option but to deal with it. However, the visual impact is not bitter — the droplets look pleasantly ornate.

Reminiscences, by Ishan Pariyar

Siddhartha Art Gallery

Until July 9