You’d need to travel and look a long way to find a professional artist who began life in Dang in the Western region of Nepal, but there is one at least. Prakash Pun Magar has an amazing story to tell – it is one of sheer determination and self-belief. His parents are farmers and there has been no artistic connection in his family. But aged just 16, Prakash left his home with barely three hundred rupees in his pocket to come to the Kathmandu Valley. Facebook was in its infancy, but he had seen some artists’ pages and written to them, determined to find work in that field. It was a very difficult time for a young boy so far from home. He freely admits that he approached quite a few artists and artistic groups, almost begging for a chance to further his dreams.
Prakash started in painting but soon found another medium to showcase his abilities. His good fortune was to be given a chance by Vijay Maharjan to learn skills in sculpture. He stayed with him for five years, learning from his guru. Prakash studied at the Lalitkala Campus but completed only two years because of financial worries. Dropping out did not dent his fortunes and he set forth on a path of self-study and learning. He has developed his talents despite this setback, and by doing casual jobs on the side he struggled on. Today he is ‘giving back’, taking student Madhu Adhikari under his wing to inspire and teach her some new skills. Before Covid, she was set to go to China to study Chinese Art. It may be China’s loss and Nepal’s gain that she continues to learn in Kathmandu.
Today he uses a multitude of materials for his sculptures, and most are not traditional; clay is his preferred medium, but fiberglass, metal, concrete, resin and plaster of Paris are others. Thus far he has not worked much in wood or stone. He likes to work with the softer mediums, where his hands can ‘feel’ the materials and inspire his work. He often needs to use line drawings as reference points for his sculptures and for any commissions he receives. Working as a sculptor is a far cry from the fields of Dang, and Prakash delights in his art – no two days are ever the same – it’s the kind of freedom that few in ‘proper’ jobs ever experience.
He now has his own studio and feels more secure, but Covid has been difficult for all artists. He sells mainly to Nepalese buyers, with rare overseas interest. Some works are done on a commission basis, and this is likely to become an extra strand to his income.
Look out for his piece at the MoNA Museum; no one will be surprised by the impression and interest it generates.