In “Where The Wild Things Are”, Gopal Kalapremi Shrestha interprets the pandemic and female power through ceramic arts

While looking at those artworks, one can feel the sense of chaos, fear and the feeling of being locked up in the house screaming out from the cracks of the ceramics

Anushka Nepal

  • Read Time 2 min.

Kathmandu: Amidst the chaos of the pandemic, ceramic artist Gopal Kalapremi Shrestha indulged himself in creating artworks that sought to combine every ounce of feelings he had during the globe-encompassing scourge. Shrestha found solace in art.

And it manifests in his latest exhibit, “Where The Wild Things Are”, on display at the Babarmahal-based Siddhartha Art Gallery. On display are dozens of his ceramic artworks created during the pandemic. In every drag of his paintbrush, there is hidden chaos that characterized his thought during the pandemic. The exhibit also includes some pieces by his wife Yamuna Shrestha and his son Shushank Kalapremi Shrestha.

Shrestha’s feelings during the pandemic come alive most pronouncedly in the series called Life in Black and White, featuring artworks that are done in black and white, as implied. There was no colour in life in those frantic moments of the pandemic, he seems to say. While looking at those artworks, one can feel the sense of chaos, fear and the feeling of being locked up in the house screaming out from the cracks of the ceramics.

While these artworks definitely seem chaotic, they also exude a sense of being seen and feel relatable. One can feel the calm breeze pass through their veins as the artworks represent what everyone felt like during the pandemic.

Almost all of Shrestha’s work is female-centric. He has portrayed a female to be a strong and independent figure who can accomplish almost anything if she desires. 

Almost all of Shrestha’s work is female-centric. He has portrayed a female to be a strong and independent figure who can accomplish almost anything if she desires

One of his series features three sculptures of Devisthe goddesses—that are linked to the well-known chant Ya Devi Sarva Bhutessu, which dictates that a woman can be both creator and destroyer. Shrestha himself professes faith in the power of the goddesses.

Likewise, in many of his other series, he has portrayed that females do not have to fight to be equal to males. He believes that females are “already above men” in many ways. “Trying to be men’s equal is like lowering the level of who they are,” he says.

But, when we come to the end of his ceramic artwork’s series, it takes a different turn. In the show’s final series, Shrestha has portrayed that more than men, it is women who are more involved in suppressing other women. In a statement that may strike as controversial to some, Shrestha depicts a horse as an embodiment of a woman being suppressed and a woman riding the horse on top. To further drive home the point of this particular allegory, Shrestha said, “A daughter is suppressed by her mother, a daughter in law is suppressed by her mother in law, and the cycle goes on.”

Moreover, to depict that this happens not just in one place but all over the world, he employs 12 ceramic artworks representing 12 horoscopes, which when translated depicts everyone in the world.

Shrestha’s work allows every viewer a chance to draw in their own perspective while looking at the featured artworks. They depict chaos and peace at the same time, mingling together. One has to visit the exhibit themselves to deduce whether it is the peace or chaos that prevails in these great series of artworks.

The exhibition will run till 3 September 2021.

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