The Stranger is a Friend: A Solo Show of Pooja Duwal

Sunil Raj Dhakal
Sunil Raj Dhakal September 16, 2023
4 Min Read

Forging a friendship with a stranger poses a considerable challenge for introverts. Nevertheless, Pooja Duwal defies this notion as she presents her inaugural solo exhibition at the Takpa Gallery in Lazimpat. Here, she showcases her solitary interactions with individuals from diverse walks of life. While she has previously taken part in numerous group exhibitions, this marks the maiden occasion for her to display her artworks as a solo artist.

The Takpa Gallery boasts pristine white walls adorned with a multitude of paintings by this gifted young artist. Whether executed in charcoal or acrylic  or  the oil on canvas, her creations evoke the essence of the impressionist era. They capture the hallmark traits of impressionist paintings—swift, expressive brushwork, vibrant hues, plein air scenes, and enhanced clarity from a distance. In her charcoal pieces, she employs a monochromatic palette to vividly portray the ordinary lives of local people, depicting individuals, streets, and everyday scenes.

Within some of her artworks, her sister and mother assume poignant roles. When asked about the significance of featuring these individuals in her paintings, she responds, “I have grown alongside these people and felt compelled to immortalize them in my art.”

This incredibly skilled artist frequents the taverns nestled in the alleyways of Bhaktapur during her lunch breaks. In these dimly lit, snug corners of an ancient building, she indulges in the Newari delicacies that were a staple during her upbringing. In preparation for her latest exhibition, she enlisted her sister to serve as a model, capturing the essence of this cherished locale in her paintings.

In another of her oil paintings, she portrays her mother at home, engrossed in a book amidst clothes draped all around. As a homemaker, her mother diligently tends to all household duties. The artist endeavors to capture her mother’s fervent passion for reading and writing, a hunger that persisted from her lack of formal education in her youth. This painting, for the artist, serves as a heartfelt tribute to her mother, seen through the lens of her own artistic expression.

In another set of paintings, she captures both a broad perspective and a detailed close-up of an individual seated in a public area. The artist expresses her fondness for frequent visits to Siddhi Pokhari, where she enjoys observing people strolling around the pond. The perpetual motion of water, coupled with a gentle breeze, creates a tranquil ambiance. For these works, the artist enlisted her sister to pose near the pond, utilizing the reflections of people in the water to add depth and contemplation to her paintings.

In another series of paintings titled ‘Ghar’ (meaning ‘home’ in Nepali), she brings to the forefront the everyday routines of Bhaktapur’s inhabitants and their living spaces. Her canvases feature scenes of stray dogs resting on the brick-paved streets, glimpses of laundry hanging from windows, and women engaged in conversations from intricately carved wooden windows. These paintings appear to engage in an ongoing conversation with the artist, yet they carry an intriguing undercurrent of melancholy discernible through her careful selection and application of colors.

Overall, this exhibition is a must-visit for art enthusiasts. It offers a chance for visitors to gain inspiration through direct interaction with the artist during gallery hours. The exhibition runs until September 25th, with the gallery closed on Mondays.

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