An artist on art

June 17, 2013 , by Niraj Karki, Leave your thoughts
An artist on art » My Dreams Mag
Sujan Chitraker is one of the most well known names in Nepal’s art sphere. As a veteran artist and teacher, Dreams interviewed him to get his views on art in Nepal.

Anyone interested in Nepalese art has surely heard of Sujan Chitrakar. Being in the forefront of the field, Chitrakar not only creates his own work but is passing along skills and moulding Nepalese artists of the future. Read a little about him and his views of the trade he’s committed his life to.

Tell us a little bit about yourself—how you got involved in art, what you inspirations were, and how you moved to teaching.

I feel blessed to be born in the family of Chitrakars as I was introduced to various making processes from my childhood. I joined Lalitkala Campus with a strong desire to be an animator but the situation was not as easy as today. Instead I was submerged into the world of fine arts and saw a beautiful prospect of being a self-explorative artist.

After my studies in India, I was more into multimedia and installations that were not common in Nepal. I strongly felt the need to transform the knowledge I had learnt and that was also triggered by the need to create like-minded people and believers of the alternative art practices I was into. From then onwards, I remained to be an art educator and a practicing artist.

How has art in Nepal evolved since you started teaching? sujan chitrakar 2

My earlier works were influenced by this well-established idea that artistic creations are self-explorative expressions of the artist. I was made to believe that those who do not understand art would never understand art because they were just not capable of experiencing the ecstasy of an artist. This demi-godly attitude swayed away many of my predecessors too.

The result of that generic notion influenced my works to be fanatically self-centred and fairly narcissistic. After being an art educator I came to realize that art is not just an exploration of self but a creative voice to inspire and influence people and propagate social changes.

I also developed a strong interest in bringing art into the public domain and strongly advocating on its importance. I now believe that art is not an individual journey but an essence of collective consciousness. Thus art become a reflection of time and in favourable conditions art becomes avant-garde.

Today artists are encouraged to push every possible boundary and create artworks. The artistic communities have fragmented into different ideologies but the rise of believers that art should not only be confined to the walls of an elite gallery is a big achievement.

What do you believe are the major influences on current art?

Recently our daily lives have become multi-layered. Henceforth artists too are constantly influenced by the tremendous amount of fleeting experiences. Artists are influenced by social media, bombardment of information, technology, socio-economical issues, personal and intrapersonal issues, politics, market, money, publicity and many more.

Education in Nepal is generally based on rote learning – is art different in this aspect? Are students and courses creative?

Rote learning is an attitude and that attitude can exist in any discipline. Art is a creative discipline and it can be affected negatively if tutors are infected by that attitude. However, at KU Art+Design, we use many tools to discourage and deter students from rote learning by creating participatory classroom environments, encouraging self-motivated projects to match our students’ ability to understand, and showing students that there is more than one way to do a thing.

Do you think upcoming artists will be able to sustain themselves through art, or will it be limited to a serious hobby?

If the definition of an artist is a person who submerges into one’s thought and creates incomprehensible artworks in their studio, then art will always remain a serious hobby. If the definition of an artist is a professional who explores broader spectrum of artistic activities and with his/her creative thinking derives a multitude of solutions to any existing visual problem, then it is no more a serious hobby but a passionate profession.

The option to remain a studio artist and rely on the income from a once-in-a-blue-moon sale is solely the artist’s personal decision. But there are hundreds of job prospects out there for aspiring artists today. Art director, set designer, graphic designer, game designer, illustrator, animator, concept builder, interior designer, art educator, art writer, curator, typographer, signage designer, photographer, information graphic designer, and film-maker to name a few.

As a seasoned artist what do you think of the new generation of artist? Are there major differences between older and newer artists?

The young artists are enthusiastic, dynamic and versatile. These attributes always make me feel encouraged. In terms of information and opportunities, they are a lucky bunch of people. For the new generations any kind of information is only a click away and they are not detained in a state of ignorance.

This open source information is added advantage in their learning process and has helped to discourage rote learning in many institutions. The advancement of technology has also been a great support for their artistic practices.

However, one thing I find a little scary is the tendency of youth to achieve everything quickly and as easily with just the click of a button. Art is a rigorous practice-based discipline and the amount of time needed to achieve a certain skill cannot be substituted by only information. One’s dedication and diligence are the keys to success in this field.

Our generation of artists were less sophisticated and our learning experiences were confined because of limited information. The limit and lack of information meant that outer forces influenced us less and we were compelled to find answers by ourselves and within ourselves utilizing any trivial information that came along and that has added value to us.

When I look back now, those answers became a survival kit to cherish for rest of my life. They became my guiding stars. Conversely, for new generation there are multitudes of ephemeral influences. They have an entire galaxy to choose their guiding stars from and this is a huge challenge for them.


Image Courtesy/Photographer : Bijaya Maharjan

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Categorised in: Interviews

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