Sir Lain Singh Bangdel
Date of Birth: 1919 - 2002 AD
Artist Type: Contemporary/Modern Art
An Artist, Writer, and Art Historian of Nepal, the Late Sir Lain Singh Bangdel is a distinguished figure in the field of art, literature, and culture. A progenitor of the modern art movement, he is also best known as the "father of modern art" in Nepal. He introduced the modern trends of art into Nepal ("Bangdel era") with his pioneering one-man exhibition in Kathmandu in 1962.
Bangdel was born in 1919 in Darjeeling, India, to a family from Khotang district of Eastern Nepal. His father was Rangalal Rai, and his mother was Bimala Rai. After spending his youth in a modest Himalayan village, he was able to accomplish the Fine Arts degree from the Government College of Arts and Crafts in Calcutta, graduating first-class-first in 1945. For his further studies, he went to Paris in 1952 to study at the French National School of Fine Arts (Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts). The early 1950s were the critical time for him in Paris professionally, where he met and developed close friendships with other international artists: Paritosh Sen and Padamsee from India; Affandi from Indonesia; and Soshana Afroyim from Austria. He also met many renowned contemporary artists like Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso in Paris that had a significant impact during his formative years as an artist. Bangdel was the first Nepali artist to study and work in Paris and London and made a name for himself as an artist with his distinctive, non-traditional Nepali style. With his unique style of work and also partly under the influence reknown artists of that era; his paintings are a rare synthesis of tradition and modernity, creating a form of truly international quality. After establishing his artistic career in Europe in the 1950s, Bangdel was invited in 1960 by the then King Mahendra, to move to Nepal to become a member of the Royal Nepal Academy in Kathmandu and further pursue his art. He respectfully accepted the offer, as returning to his homeland was the realization of one of his lifelong dreams. Subsequently, under King Birendra, he was promoted and served two terms as Chancellor of the Royal Nepal Academy, 1979 to 1989.
As a writer, he introduced a realistic writing style that marked the turning point in Nepali literature in the early 1950s. His popular three novels are Muluk Bahira, Maitighar, and Langada ko Sathi. These novels quickly became required reading at the college and university levels. And, finally, as an art historian, Bangdel left a commendable legacy for Nepal by leaving meticulous documentation of Nepalese Arts and Artifacts over 40 years of his professional life in Nepal. Based on this documentation, his book, "Stolen Images of Nepal," proved the stolen cultural heritage of the country and hence, was extremely helpful to facilitate returning of several important art objects to Nepal. His other significant books in Nepalese Art History include: "Early Sculpture of Nepal," "2500 Years of Nepalese Art," and "Inventory of Stone Sculptures of the Kathmandu Valley."