Nepal’s Burgeoning Street Art

Manjushree, the god of wisdom, turning the lake into a valley, by Prabal Shrestha, Shramdip Purkoti and Shristi Shrestha Photo: Beckie Jordan via Flickr

International and local street artists are flocking to Nepal’s capital Katmandu to take advantage of the nation’s absence of legislation against painting on buildings and walls, the New York Times has reported.

Nepali street art traces its roots to the impoverished country’s tumultuous political past. During election campaigns parties would hire artists to paint slogans on the city’s walls to spread their political message.

It wasn’t until 2008 when the French street artist Space Invader visited Katmandu and painted twenty murals across the city that the Nepalese street art in its current incarnation was born. One of Nepal’s street art pioneers, Aditya Aryal, who paints under the moniker SadhuX, explained to the Times, “When I saw political walls, I got an idea to paint on top of the slogans. I thought, I can do the same thing, but with an artistic agenda, not a political one…”

The Buddha by Imagine Photo: Catherine Frisbie via Flickr

The Buddha by Imagine
Photo: Catherine Frisbie via Flickr

In 2012, Aryal and some of his fellow graduates from Katmandu University’s art school founded an arts collective called Artlab. The group develops public projects and promotes promising young Nepali painters.

Nepalese street artists are trying to use public art projects to brighten the bleak urban landscapes of the poor nation within cities such as Katmandu.

“We have a hard time feeding our population and educating our masses,” Artlab founding member Yuki Poudyal told the Times. “But artists contributing a little of themselves to the city and country and making themselves heard is something positive.”

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