Lain Singh Bangdel

On Exhibition

Oil on Canvas
Size: 48 x 63.5 cm
Year: 1989

Self-portrait and framed by Lain Singh Bangdel, 1989.
Permanent collection of Museum of Nepali Art

About the Art

Bangdel lives here!


There are only few rare moments in an artist’s life, when he creates something only for himself. A secret sentiment captured of a particular trice; not to be shared, nor to be analyzed but an exposé of his inner romanticism. This creation of a clandestine moment could be of an illustration of obstacle overcome; a portrayal of life altering occurrence; an interpretation of secret romantic escapade; a sketch of a magical encounter or a reflection of a “SIGH” of fulfilled bliss to mark a phase that transformed into a new beginning. This could be a moment captured; a reminder of an emotion of a particular sensation, never to be forgotten, never to be revealed, but an aide-mémoire of a secret affair with himself.

A destructive form of a self-portrait is maze of discoveries. This artform could disclose not only the understanding of personal strife and jubilance, but to see him; feel him; understand him. The unrevealed secrets lie in a self-portrait. To be able to decipher the significance behind an expression, could be new inspiration for generations to come. A person, any person, lives a life with many expectations, successes and failures, and if we could only learn or understand from each other, maybe we would be better person. Most of us live a life, burdened by obligations and responsibilities, to break away from the everyday struggle is literally, impossible. However, there are a few, who have had experiences worth understanding, worth your time as they have lived a larger life. It is through such stories, we better ourselves and understand ourselves better.

We look at great people for inspirations, and most of the times without understanding; why they become, who they became. Lain Singh Bangdel is a personality who deserves this recognition, as his struggled and successful life still resonates inspiration and motivation long after his demise.

Bangdel is known as the father of modern and contemporary Nepali art. His authoritative and exemplary books commenced the realization and preservation of Nepalese art and culture from communal to international art world. Bangdel’s contemporary and abstract work, revered throughout the world, is his depiction of nature and creation, but this particular self-portrait is something else, it displays

  • fulfilled closed eyes
  • an inconspicuous smile
  • secretive stroke of an incomplete ear
  • an expression of a satiated relief
  • an assertive yet humble posture
  • an illustration of an unpretentiousness shoulder
  • drape of a distinguished honored shawl
  • a finishing confident last strokes of appreciations
  • and a frame, yes, an ordinary FRAME, that he painted for himself as a laurel “to frame his accomplished self”.

This self-portrait speaks something beyond the eyes can see. It might well be a reflection of himself at his best, a moment of celebration, delight & jubilance.

This 1989 creation, could be the year, where he felt the freedom from gratitude, from national responsibility, from a society of relentless guidance, and an overwhelming gratefulness to the monarchy. Bangdel has always been known to live life on his own terms, may it be choosing to be a starving artist in Europe, or may it be being a brave heart to have pioneered a whole new genre of art in a conservative place like Nepal.

An excerpt “Against the Current”, - Don Messerschmidt and Dina Bangdel. Dialogue between Bangdel and King Mahendra.

“Bangdel, upon being asked to settle in Nepal and lead Royal Nepal Academy, replies with utmost modesty, “Nepal is an agricultural country, an artist like me does not have much to do”.

From 1972 till 1989, Bangdel initiated and led the Nepal Academy, created numerous artworks and authored many historically significant books. Bangdel retired in 1989.This portrait, made in the same year, reveals his “SIGH” of relief from burden and responsibilities. Upon in-depth observations, one can distinguish certain differences in his artworks, before and after 1989. We can humbly assume that this could have been the time when Bangdel, finally had a chance to live for himself. And thus, this could well have been the self-portrait, that Lain Singh Bangdel, constructed as an attribute to reminiscent himself.

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