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While Nepal is full of artists who create (and sell) traditional, religious-themed art, there is also no shortage of more contemporary art spaces, especially in Kathmandu. Read on for our picks of the best art galleries to get to know the art scene in Nepal.
Patan has a high concentration of contemporary creative spaces and Image Ark is one. It’s located in the beautiful backstreets of old Patan, a short walk from the Durbar Square and just behind a nicely renovated little temple. They often show visiting international artists, as well as locals, and frequently hold receptions where you can enjoy the art and mingle with other Nepali and foreign art lovers over light snacks and drinks.
Image Ark, Swotha Rd, Patan 44600, Nepal, +977 1-5006665
Centrally located in Kathmandu, the Nepal Academy of Fine Arts is housed in a grand old palatial building that reflects its slightly institutional feel. But, that aside, this is an essential stop on the Kathmandu art circuit. Aside from exhibiting Nepali and international artists, the Academy conducts research and publishes books (in Nepali and English) on numerous aspects of Nepali art and promotes traditional art forms throughout Nepal.
Nepal Academy of Fine Arts, Kathmandu 44600, Nepal, +977 1-4411645
Simrik Atelier is one of the finest places to head in Patan to learn about traditional Nepali religious painting. It specifically focuses on Paubha painting, an artistic tradition belonging to the Newar people of the Kathmandu Valley. The school, studio and art gallery is located right by Patan Dhoka, the heart of Newar culture in Kathmandu. Founder, Lok Chitrakar, has worked over the last 40 years to train younger generations of Paubha artists and keep the tradition alive. The paintings are exquisitely detailed and vibrant and are a joy to examine in all stages of their creation.
Simrik Atelier, Patan 44600, Nepal, +977 1-5528810
Located in the gorgeous Baber Mahal Revisited complex, the Siddhartha Art Gallery is a good place to drop by before or after enjoying a delicious meal and shopping for high-quality jewellery, clothing or antiques. The gallery has been operational since 1987 but has been in its current, three-floor space since 1997. Exhibitions rotate frequently and showcase both local and international artists who have some connection to Nepal. Lectures and workshops are often held here. The Siddhartha Art Gallery is definitely a place to prioritize while visiting Kathmandu.
Park Gallery, on Pulchowk Road, has been showcasing modern Nepali art since 1970. It is an artist-run space, and in addition to the changing exhibits, the first floor of the gallery is devoted to displaying the work of R.N. Joshi, the founder of the Park Gallery. Botanical painting classes are also held here.
The National Art Gallery is located on Bhaktapur Durbar Square, so it’s a bit of a trek from Kathmandu, but a worthwhile stop when in this part of the valley. A particularly impressive collection of Tantric Buddhist cloth paintings are housed inside the lovely building, which is guarded by large stone lions and intricately decorated wooden doors and windows.
The Kathmandu Contemporary Arts Centre is a UK charity, housed on the grounds of the excellent Patan Museum. They hold exhibitions, workshops and symposia, and provide funding for selected emerging Nepali artists. They also hold a library of over 5,000 art references, the largest of its kind in Nepal, which consists of gifts from the Tate Britain and elsewhere. Check out their website to see what’s on.
Bikalpa Art Centre’s aim is to fortify local forms of art and utilize them to inspire art lovers and practitioners. At this centre, tucked down a quiet lane off busy Pulchowk Road, visitors will find a small art space as well as a garden cafe, bar, co-working space and venue for live music, film screenings, craft markets and more. Lots of events take place at BAC, so check ahead to see what’s on when you’re in Patan.