Born in 1986, Kichaa is following a very long family tradition of paubha artists, including his late father Prem Man Chitrakar, who can trace their craft back to before the Rana dynasty. His family house is in the Bhimsen Tole area of old Kathmandu and for a while, his father had a hand in a restaurant on Freak Street. His mother and older sister (whom he jokes is a little rebellious in her art) are both artists in the paubha tradition. After school Kichaa (his name meaning ‘shadow’) took part in a large Buddhist art project in Lumbini funded by Germany, which gave him wider experience in art, but in truth, his younger days were steeped in the culture of paubha. He did not attend any formal art courses, and while following the traditions of paubha, he was already learning how to add his own touches.
Kichaa readily admits that art is a constant learning curve, a living process that formulates and grows, appearing sometimes to have its own momentum. It is as if, as the painting itself evolves, it inspires the artist along the long road of its creation. A notable canvas of Mahakala took him eleven months to complete. Does he make mistakes on the fine brushwork? – yes, at times, but rectifying the issue is a real part of the painter’s skills honed over many years.
The detail on any paubha art is astonishing to the lay observer, the dots and brush strokes so fine as to be virtually invisible and yet adding to the whole image. He thinks of the artist as just a part of the medium that traps the mood in the image. Kichaa relates that sometimes a sense of sadness can be felt when a painting that has taken many months to create is sold – as though part of the soul is being drained away.
He uses a mix of stone and mineral colours, along with materials and brushes that few places can produce; even in Germany where his sister lives he could not acquire the right type of brush. Kichaa often produces images where the deity is not central, adding multiple deities in other spaces to give a different edge to the work. All the while the actual deity and essential aspects conform strictly to the accepted norms of paubha. Most images are of the plethora of Buddhist deities. He works on his own ideas as well as on commissions. Talking to the buyer first is key to success, to seek their requirements and preferred designs, but more to gauge their desires and the mood or message required. He has worked further afield for Buddhist centers, like Dharamsala in India, on commissions.
Kichaa has also experimented with other forms of art. He has more than a passing interest in the ancient architecture of the Newari culture, but as yet has not had time to follow on through his painting. A couple of pieces of his artwork are due for display at the Museum of Nepali Art (MoNA).
Not only an artist, but he is also an accomplished musician who plays and directs his own compositions. Some of his beautifully haunting tracks can be heard on his YouTube channel Kichaakichaa and on Spotify. He is also a filmmaker… a very talented artist in so many fields.