Rabindra Shrestha is a very unusual artist, unafraid to confront the admirer full on. His work does not directly seek to antagonise, but its execution can be provocative. He has a surprisingly varied collection of art forms that spring from a very imaginative mind. His work has no obvious single style, but flowers and flows in many directions, from line drawings to composite themes with mixed materials.
His over-riding philosophy seems to be that despite so much division, whether mild or in great conflict, all humanity is ‘connected’. His family came from Bhaktapur; originally farmers, as land was consumed by development they became involved in business. Rabindra never seemed to fit the mould. He believes that his mother is a great artist because she gave him life, and, like all humanity, it was a unique event. This has shaped his philosophy and influences his form of conceptual art. It is a very powerful theme that has made him question humanity itself, which seems incapable of peaceful co-existence despite the common link between us all.
Rabindra always felt the spirit of the artist within, almost from birth. After studying fine arts for two years at Tribhuvan University, he switched his interests to working in the medical field in the pathology department. But again his restless spirit changed course, and he reverted to his true vocation with the study of Fine Arts at Kathmandu University. Mahabir Pun has been an inspiration to him, but Rabindra really has little need of any tutor with his unbounding imagination.
A major piece is his Heritage Line exposé in the Mona Museum, which depicts the major heritage sites cut by the lines of the 2015 earthquakes. Its impact is telling, amply summing up that which has been changed by nature beyond the powers of any human control. The fine line drawings are masterful. His fingerprint images are very simple, but truly exemplify his philosophy, with the unique fingerprint cut by a blood line that defines the interconnectedness of all humanity. It is as he states; no matter what a person’s background, caste, creed, colour or status, all are really the same inside, from the same seed.
His diverse art forms have taken him to China, where he produced ceramic-based images in collaboration with the Chinese artist Li Quain. This artwork again displays the theme of international cooperation that should be the hallmark of all interactions. His finger art is displayed in India. Some pieces emphasis the Black Lives Matter campaign, again with a simple red line over the fingerprint. Another project uses umbrellas to suggest the upside-down nature of things. One project that is sure to cause comment is of an art history book cut by a knife painted with images of Nepal. Make of it what you will. The coin image is yet another surprising theme, which we will leave to visitors to discover in person. Perhaps the most extraordinary image is one painted with blood, called ‘voice for integration’. It is for the admirer to interpret these images how they will – Rabindra’s artwork seeks to stir passionate debate.
For Rabindra, even he admits he does not truly always know what or how his next project will develop. As in life, it depends on the mood, on chance and inspiration coming from deep in the soul. Rabindra’s work is soon to be on display at the Kathmandu Art House; many will be drawn in and undoubtedly surprised to observe his latest creations.