Born in Kathmandu to a family which has no artistic bearings, Sapana Poudel Maharjan began to display a keep appetite and unmistakable talent for art since a very young age. She initially pursued a Bachelors degree in Business Studies but is now focused on her true passion, currently studying for her Bachelors degree in Fine Arts. She has also trained under Erina Tamrakar from Kasthamandap Art Studio and learnt Paubha painting under the guidance of the legendary traditional Paubha master Deepak Kumar Joshi. Excerpts of an conversation with Anushka Shrestha of WOW about her journey to becoming an artist.
How did you develop an interest for painting?
I loved colours and art books. I never got any help from school as there was nobody who had knowledge about arts there but about nine years ago, my husband brought me a sketch pad as he had noticed my love for drawing and painting. When he saw the drawings, he then brought me brushes and colours. I had taken basic classes in sketching, water colour and acrylic from different places. My passion began to grow from there. When I got my first commissioned work from my boss for Rs. 20,000, my confidence developed and I knew I could do something with my skills.
Tell us about your first solo exhibition.
Music is an art form that has sound as its medium. Its common elements are pitch (which governs melody and harmony), rhythm (and its associated concepts tempo, meter and articulation), dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture. Hence I chose the name Swaranjali. It is derived from two Sanskrit words Swara, meaning ‘musical notes’, and ‘Anjali’, meaning ‘Offering to the Divine’. Here, both come as abstract meanings. “A Divine Musical Offering”. Each and every art on my canvas reflects classical music, a combination of colours, and the power of art. All paintings show the combination of musical vibes, beauty, sounds, religion, scale, rhythm and more. Through this exhibition, I can proudly say that the theme is the first ever experience in our country. I chose Swaranjali to define the connection between painting, music and literature.
I represented seven swaras through my painting Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni and so on. About 30 acrylic paintings are on display.
At the opening, we held a classical concert in the presence of honourable guests. Traditional artist Prem Man Chitrakar, Culture Expert and Historian Dr. Satya Mohan Joshi and Sangeet Praveen Mohan Prasad Joshi were the chief guests. Erina Tamrakar was honoured as a special guest. The classical performance was given by well-known musicians like Sarod Maestro Suresh Raj Bajracharya, Tabla Maestro Rabin Lal Shrestha and Israj Maestro Santosh Bhakta Shrestha.
On the Tabala was Manoj Gautam, along with a fusion performance by Firoj Bajracharya, Om Raj Bajracharya, Babin Bajracharya, Jyovan Bhuju, Ricky Shakya on Drums and Percussion, Suzan Khatri on Bass Guitar, Utsav Singh Adhikari as the Vocalist and last but not the least Suman Maharjan on the Sarod, my husband. The paintings were displayed for seven days at the Nepal Art Council gallery.
What is your genre of art?
My paintings project something mysteriously captivating. They blend traditional art form and modern techniques. Defining the genre of my paintings would rather be an exhausting task. Few influences of Mithila art and Newari art form serves as the icing on the cake. Involving eastern classical chromatic scales on my paintings has definitely enhanced the level of creativity. Symbolic significance on my paintings easily keep the viewer spellbound unravelling its mystery.
From working in a bank to becoming an artist, what has the journey been?
I got good experiences while working in the bank too. It was a different environment but I always felt something was missing. I had no idea that I would become an artist someday. Thanks to my husband who encouraged me. Now I feel proud of myself and I feel complete.
My husband is my biggest inspiration. He inspired me to paint music because he is a musician. He inspired me to paint because he himself is an artist and nowadays if I ever feel like giving up, I just remember there is a little girl watching who wants to be just like me, she is my daughter Aarya who inspires me to do more.
I am always attracted to the beauty of divine powers so I chose to paint gods and goddesses. All paintings are a combination of music, beauty, sound, religion, scale, rhythm and such in the form of colour and shape. I want to use my imagination and creativity to paint the vibration of strings, and capture the beauty and fragrance of music. In future, I also want to raise my voice for women empowerment and present it on my canvas as the divine forces.