Embodied Enlightenment 2016


Embodied Enlightenment is a historic exhibition, as it marks the first retrospective presentation of any traditional artist to date. The exhibition showcases 60 of the best masterpieces of Samundra Man Singh Shrestha, the leading contemporary paubha artist in Nepal. As the curator, it has been exciting to collaborate closely on this exhibition with Purna Man Shakya, who had been passionate about collecting over the five years some phenomenal paintings that had already left the country. Purna’s passion for traditional Newar arts has been remarkable, as he has indefatigably pursued his dreams in showcasing the range of works of the renowned artist Samundra Man Singh Shrestha. This was not a small feat. Not only does the exhibition bring together a fantastic collective of paintings from many different sources-from national and international private collections-it additionally showcases I I brand new works of Samundra that have never been shown to the public, and was exclusively created for the exhibition. It is a real labor of love for Purna Man Shakya, and it has been an incredible journey to see the fruits of that passion unfold. This desire to Promote the traditional artist is shared by his son, Prajwol Man Shakya, Director of the organizing Bodhisattva Gallery. Our many hours of fruitful discussions on various aspects of traditional Newar art have happily resulted in this beautifully produced exhibition catalog, published by the Bodhisattva Gallery.

My first introduction to Samundra Man Singh Shrestha was in 2011, when I wrote the catalog of the Jewels of Newar Art exhibition. Over the years, I have seen Samundra’s works evolve and mature into conceptual compositions that are imaginative and ground-breaking. As an art historian specializing in Himalayan art and working with historical objects, this opportunity to work in close collaboration with a traditional artist, whose works challenge the categories of tradition/modernity, authenticity/innovations, has been an exciting one. In the process of writing the catalog. I find that his works challenges many assumptions and stereotypes of traditional art, and the limits of creativity, innovation, and imagination on the part of the artist. It was a privilege to include Samundra for the first 2016 India Art Fair exhibition that I curated, and the works were well received in Delhi among the contemporary artists.

This exhibition is a true collective endeavor to showcase the very best of the phenomenal work of Samundra Man Singh Shrestha. With both the exhibition and catalog, we hope that the viewers will be inspired by the works sublime aesthetics, and will question and provoke thoughts about aesthetics, innovation, and creativity of traditional arts in the Kathmandu Valley. Samundra’s works truly embody the presence of the divine in three dimensional form, thus is befitting of the title EMBODIED ENLIGHTMENT.

It’s exciting that Bodhisattva Gallery has planned more exhibitions of traditional artists in the future. These endeavors, especially the high-end exhibition catalogs, will undoubtedly contribute to the highlighting the contemporary practice of Newar traditional arts in the Kathmandu Valley.


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Embodied Enlightenment 2016