Sangee Shrestha is putting together a well-managed file of her work as I walk into her studio. She looks up and welcomes me with a smile.
Sangee is noted for her paintings which are a reflection of hidden human emotions. “When someone sees my art, they are learning about my experiences. I interact with them indirectly. I see painting also as a form of meditation,” she says effusively.
Sangee’s memory blurs as she tries to remember the day she started painting. Her mother would often tell her that she had inborn talent, and from an early age, Sangee would draw on the sand with her little fingers creating images of the Hindu diety, Ganesh. She recalls, “The last pages of my notebook were filled with drawings and art. But I never thought of becoming an artist until I decided to join Lalitkala Campus.”
Here, Sangee flourished finding greater expression for her connection with art. She says, “I was an introvert, the teachers never knew my name, but my work spoke for me. It drew people closer to me and opened doors of opportunities.” As an artist, Sangee has been honoured with several awards, participated in several workshops, installations, gone international, and held solo and group exhibitions.
Sangee started her career when Nepal was going through a civil war. Her earlier work reflected the armed conflict which took place between 1996- 2006. She used to also work for a media company as an illustrator then. “Our country was going through a dark phase when I officially started my career. Being the only woman in the room empowered me as an artist to break the stereotype and work for my passion,” shares Sangee.
As the only woman in the company she says, “There are boundaries and we are confined by them. We are afraid to cross the limitations set by our family, society, and sometimes even oneself. A woman’s life in itself is a journey.” What also troubled her was the demands society places on women when they are of marriageable age. “A friend of mine put a pause to her career after marriage. That hit me hard,” she says.
But things changed when she found the love of her life, Abin Shrestha who is also an artist, and her biggest strength. Now a wife and mother, Sangee says, “My husband has been my biggest supporter and critic.
Marriage also allowed me to explore the connection between people through storytelling on my canvas.” Then came motherhood and Sangee says, “I was in dismay. Initially as I thought I would lose my passion for art after the birth of my child”.
From exploring the nuances of water colours to charcoal and illustration, Sangee’s art has evolved with time and changing circumstances. She struggled as an artist to create an unique imprint of her work. Art was her way to turn imagination into reality. And then, she found art that spoke to her without words. As she rides the waves of ups and downs in life, she feels the freest in front of a blank canvas of which she is the master of creation.