When Bibhakar Shakya pulled down the veil to uncover one among his father-in-law’s self-portraits on the Museum of Nepali Artwork (MONA) a number of days again, he had a heat smile on his face.
As Rajan Sakya, the founding father of the museum, emotionally ended his speech with the be aware, “Lain Singh Bangdel now lives right here,” on the inauguration occasion of the portray within the museum in Thamel, Bibhakar was beaming with satisfaction.
Bibhakar Shakya, now 58, has been archiving Nepal’s foremost artist, Lain Singh Bangdel’s works for the previous couple of years—an obligation he took over after his late beloved spouse Dina Bangdel, Lain Singh Bangdel’s solely daughter, handed away 4 years in the past.
For Bibhakar discovering a everlasting residence for one among Lain Singh Bangdel’s works at MoNA was a second of solace. He was one step nearer to his life aim of guaranteeing the legacy of Bangdel.
“Guaranteeing his legacy ahead is one thing I have to do. I owe it to the contribution he made to Nepali artwork. There’s this pressing sense that retains me on my toes now as time is consistently slipping away. After Dina is gone, I take it as my sole duty and likewise a privilege to work on artwork and literature-related tasks to focus on Bangdel’s milestone contributions in Nepali arts, literature, and artwork historical past. If I don’t do it, it might not occur in any respect and I need the longer term era to recollect him,” mentioned a solemn Bibhakar in his Zoom dialog with the Submit.
Lain Singh Bangdel was the artist who launched modern trends of Western Art in Nepal. He was additionally an artwork historian, and in 1989 he revealed the ebook ‘Stolen Images of Nepal’, which documented greater than 300 lacking spiritual icons from the Kathmandu Valley.
Bibhakar was a school-going pupil when he first got here to learn about Bangdel.
“I’ve all the time been excited about literature, and it was in my faculty days that I got here to learn about him. I learn his hallmark novels in Nepali literature like Muluk Bahira, Maitaghar, and Langadako Saathi, all of which he wrote within the Nineteen Fifties when he lived in Calcutta,” mentioned Bibhakar. “He was a implausible author. His phrases have been lyrical, and his tales have been socially necessary. Furthermore, his characters gave an outlook of life that individuals don’t simply consider—like in Langadako Sathi.”
Little did he know on the time that someday he can be the person’s son-in-law. Bibhakar met Dina Bangdel whereas pursuing his graduate research at The Ohio State College.
“My life modified in some ways after I met Dina. She and Lain Singh Bangdel had an ideal affect on my life—in the way in which I have a look at artwork, tradition, artwork historical past, and literature,” mentioned Bibhakar, who’s a marketing consultant primarily based in Richmond in Virginia, US. “I used to be very a lot excited about artwork and literature since my highschool days, nevertheless, the 2 impressed and touched my life past what I ever imagined. I’ve performed professionally nicely as a PhD economist, however these artwork and literature tasks are what I discover thrilling and provides me the true pleasure in life.”
As we speak many within the artwork group are keen on Bibhakar and within the tasks that he’s resulting in protect and promote the work of the Bangdels—his spouse and father-in-law.
“Dina labored with many individuals within the artwork scene. She was extra tied to the artwork tradition within the nation and devoted a lot of her life to selling them on the world’s stage. I helped and supported her ventures as a lot as I might,” mentioned Bibhakar. “And he or she was the one who wished to protect and produce collectively the works of her father to maintain his legacy alive. It was necessary for her. And it’s important for me now, greater than ever, to work on her endeavor, for my kids and the longer term era.”
Within the artwork historical past of Nepal, Lain Singh Bangdel’s contribution can by no means be forgotten. His works mark an period itself within the trendy artwork scene of the nation. Nevertheless, in these difficult instances, there are a lot of who nonetheless don’t know him and his works.
Final 12 months, the artwork group was disheartened when Bangdel’s 1955 watercolour painting of a woman was bought for only 100 pounds. Many artists got here ahead and mentioned the worth was too low for an artist of Bangdel’s calibre and for somebody who contributed immensely to the nation’s artwork scene.
“I feel the incident confirmed us how we’re but to introduce and talk about what Bangdel’s works imply on the planet. The youthful era and many individuals from outdoors the artwork background don’t actually know him. They haven’t heard of him,” mentioned Bibhakar. “Which makes my work all of the extra important. I strongly imagine that his artworks needs to be recognised and revered each at residence and overseas.”
Bibhakar remembers his father-in-law as a down-to-earth gentleman and somebody who cherished socialising and took a real curiosity in speaking to folks no matter their social standing or skilled backgrounds.
“My father and mother-in-law, Manu Kumari Thapa, used to host many dinner gatherings. And in these gatherings, he would decide to mental discussions of politics, science, music, and artwork. His hospitality is without doubt one of the issues that individuals who knew him nonetheless keep in mind,” mentioned Bibhakar. “Bangdel was a flexible character—he created numerous genres of work like panorama, figurative, portrait, and summary arts. He additionally wrote each fiction and non-fiction and likewise led the Nepal artwork scene because the Chancellor of the Royal Nepal Academy.”
Bangdel painted each time he was impressed and was within the temper to let loose his thoughts on paper. And Bibhakar remembers admiring his dedication and fervour for artwork once they lived collectively for some time in Columbus, Ohio within the early Nineteen Nineties.
“He loved the method of making his artworks. And when he would begin to work on his portray, he was completely targeted. He would go on for hours and wouldn’t even take breaks to eat,” shared Bibhakar. “He was additionally very composed and organised. Once we went via his works at residence, we pleasantly found that he was meticulously organised together with his collections. All his letters and images have been neatly dated and sorted.”
Even then, for Bibhakar, organising the stock of Bangdel’s work and making the laborious selections of what to do with them, the place to put them, and pondering of what Bangdel and his spouse would have wished with these works has been an amazing expertise. The journey has additionally meant sifting via reminiscences and studying extra issues in regards to the household.
“I really like engaged on these tasks, setting my deadlines, and discussing Bangdel jee and my spouse’s work with folks. However sure, there are days when the method drains you emotionally. It isn’t simple when reminiscences come speeding again. However that’s simply life, proper?” he mentioned.
Bibhakar right now has additionally been engaged on the translations of Bangdel’s books as a part of his endeavour to make the late artist’s works extra accessible to folks all over the world. The interpretation of Langadako Sathi is slated to launch this 12 months, and Bibhakar can be working to show the ebook right into a film. He may even begin engaged on the manuscript of different Bangdel’s literary works Maitighar and Muluk Bahira in 2022.
Bibhakar has additionally concurrently been engaged on an artwork ebook that features Lain Singh Bangdel’s work. The artbook, he says, will spotlight Bangdel as a contemporary artist and his spouse Manu Kumari Thapa, who was the matron of Prasuti Griha and was his pillar of assist. He additionally plans to begin a everlasting gallery devoted to Bangdel’s work within the coming years.
“I’m additionally presently planning a Bangdel’s Retrospective Artwork Exhibition in New York in 2022 with a hope that it’ll give him the world stage that he deserved a lot. His Retrospective Artwork Exhibition will journey to different states within the US like California, Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina. There’s really lots to do and it will get extra thrilling on daily basis,” he mentioned.
Bangdel’s works are believed to be unfold throughout Europe, Japan, and the US. As Bibhakar perseveres to construct a healthful archive of his artworks, he has been networking with folks and organisations internationally who’ve Bangdel’s artworks.
“One factor I discovered from my father-in-law is to do the belongings you wish to do instantly. He used to say don’t look forward to tomorrow,” mentioned Bibhakar. “And that’s what I’m doing now. I wish to do that now and I wish to give again to society Bangdel’s works and his reminiscences.”
It’s obvious that for Bibhakar, that is greater than an obligation and as an alternative is his promise to maintain. He additionally thinks it’s a privilege for him to be a small a part of such a monumental legacy.
Today, when folks invite him to speak about Lain Singh Bangdel and his works, Bibhakar feels proud and greater than blessed to witness the lives Bangdel has touched.
At MoNA, he was elated with the dialogue of Bangdel’s 1989 self-portrait that portrayed his bliss and content material with life. “The 12 months 1989 was when Bangdel retired from his occupational work and maybe was when he determined to dwell for himself,” mentioned Rajan Sakya, whereas addressing a small gathering of artists.
And all through the handle, Bibhakar’s eyes glinted with pleasure and appreciation.
“While you see folks discussing his works and remembering his contributions, it makes all of the extra sense why I have to work on maintaining his legacy alive,” mentioned Bibhakar.