Erina was born in 1970 in the heart of the old city of Patan close to Durbar Square, near Mangal Bazaar. She is married to Asha Dangol and they have one son. Despite being born and brought up very close together, they did not meet as children, but when studying at Lalitkala Campus for their Bachelor’s degrees in Fine Arts. Her family (as the name suggests) were metalwork craftsmen, using mostly copper as a base material. Their products used mostly repousse and beating skills, with minimal lost wax working. Her first experiments in art were more with traditional art, but it was in the contemporary field that her talents blossomed and developed. She prefers to work in acrylic, which is better for her style and superior to the oils and poster colors that were the main mediums of her youth. (Acrylics were first used in the 1990s.)
She lists a number of phases that her art has gone through, and the experiences that have influenced her work. Early on, her themes reflected her life as it was – the reality of youth at that time. As motherhood dawned, so her art changed to mirror the new mindset. Having a baby also modified her moods, thoughts and new reality – again directly reflected in the work she produced. Today her art has metamorphosed to represent nature, the state of women in society and how their status has changed or not changed. She shuns political expression through her art, and is much more passionate about the expression of human feelings.
She has spent ten years working on the Third Eye Series, for which she is very well-known. This series reflected on the theme that “god does not need a Third Eye, but humans do – to clear the fog of the day-to-day, to see the reality of life as it should be lived.” At times she finds her subject matter almost painful – the poverty, the negativity of attitudes to women across much of the country – but is heartened by progress. Progress that an artist can influence. That said, she still worries that artificial boundaries continue to be imposed on society with regard to women’s issues.
Her large painting (Working Culture) reflects the bad times of the Indian blockade in 2015. She was so moved by the difficulties at the time that she felt compelled to paint only in black and white for nearly six months afterwards. She considers some of her best art was done in 2008 with the ‘Silhouette in Time’ Umbrella series displayed at the Siddhartha Art Gallery. Lain Singh Bangdel, the “father of modern art” in Nepal, had a strong influence on her work. He had studied in France and considered 1957 as the time when Nepalese artists were set free from restraining traditions to pursue their art in contemporary ways. Only the Ranas had brought outside influences to Nepal before this period.
Erina and her husband Asha are among the leading contemporary artists of Nepal and founding members of the Kasthamandap Artists Group and E-Arts Nepal, which has been at the forefront of promoting art. E-Arts Nepal now has around 60 Nepalese artists’ artworks for sale online. As artists, they have traveled to Europe, USA China and much of Asia promoting and being involved in the international art scene.
Her art features in galleries across much of south, southeast Asia and China. Be sure to view her images at the MoNA Museum and take another deep breath when standing back to admire her work! See also www.asha-erina.com