Sarita Dongol, 48, started her career in painting after completing her Bachelor’s degree in 1989. She runs the Classic Art Gallery in Patan, is an instructor at Himalayan College of Engineering, and also runs an art school which has over 70 students enrolled.
When she was a young student, her teacher would encourage her to draw and paint. “At that time no one from my family was into art and I never realised that I could make a career out of a painting”. Mentored by her teacher, she joined Lalit Kala Campus straight after school and also completed her Master’s degree in Fine Arts from Tribhuvan University. Nature is a recurring theme in her works.
In her most recent exhibition, Sarita has picked a kitchen spice staple of every household in Nepal, ‘chillies’ as the core theme. She takes us back to her childhood when questioned about her choice of subject for the exhibition. When she was just eleven years old, she would pack lunch for her mother and always add a chilli into the lunchbox to avoid bad omen. She also recalls spending extensive hours of her childhood observing her mother work in the kitchen, and at that time she would endlessly be drawing chillies.
She has a name for each painting that corresponds with a little story from her life. Sarita Dongol explains, “The single chilli give me vibes of loneliness as I am also far away from my siblings. To fill that void I have then painted three chillies that represent my siblings. Chillies spilling out from the wicker basket are titled ‘freedom of chillies’ that carry the narrative of all human beings wanting to be free from the expectations and rules and regulations imposed by society, especially women. The series itself is called ‘An Odyssey with Chilli’ and is her fifteenth solo exhibition.
Sharing her lockdown experience Sarita says felt her work was disconnected from her audience. It was then she came up with the idea of a virtual exhibition.
With nature, destruction of nature and interrelationship of nature with human life as the central theme of her work, she feels that she can understand emotions of most inanimate things and that inspires her art. She gives the example of an apple that lies forgotten on a table and she senses that the apple is talking to her about its degenerating appearance. She also uses the medium of poetry to give expression to her art.
Sarita Dongol is a sensitive artist and her community art school is dedicated to encouraging the creative imagination of young children. Sarita has exhibited in national and international shows, and is a recognised name in the country’s art circle.