Museum of Nepali Art Hosts Nepal’s First Art Biennale in Kathmandu

The first modern biennale in Nepal, featuring over 100 works from 80 living artists of traditional and contemporary styles, is being held at the Museum of Nepali Art (MoNA) in the heart of the Nepalese capital from 18 January to 18 April 2024. MoNA is located on the picturesque grounds of Kathmandu Guest House (KGH), one of the largest hotels in the city. The event is titled: Kathmandu Art Biennale: Spiritual Edition. 

MoNA is trailblazing a new path of art appreciation in Kathmandu, leveraging the considerable talents and creativity of local artists with a professional team of curators and coordinators to educate not just the global community, but also the Nepalese public, about the country’s artistic heritage and richness. Artists include some of the foremost creative minds in the country, including Kiran Manadhar, considered the father of contemporary Nepalese art with studios in France and Germany, Samundra Man Singh Shrestha, a prominent representative of the “new traditional” school, and many, many more.  

Inside MoNA. Image by the author

The founding director of MoNA, Mr. Rajan Sakya, hopes that visitors will appreciate how underexposed Nepali artists are compared to their international counterparts. “My love for art comes from my love for artists, because they are the creators of things good and beautiful in our world,” he told assembled delegates on the 18th, along with the artists he had invited to contribute to the biennale. The deputy mayor of Kathmandu, Ms. Sunita Dangol, also came for a tour of the event and the exhibited artworks and installations.

MoNA founding director Rajan Sakya and MoNA director Shaguni Singh Sakya with deputy mayor Ms. Sunita Dangol and guests. Image by the author

The biennale is being hosted in two separate wings in KGH: at MoNA itself, a spacious basement museum that Mr. Sakya converted from a carpark, and the art wing, where select artists have installations in individual rooms curated by the MoNA team. The curation was spearheaded by Ursula Manandhar, head of research at MoNA, and a small team of curators. She told BDG: “Within the sacred realms of the divine, our daily lives often obscure the sense of divinity. The Kathmandu Art Biennale serves as a gateway, inviting us to rediscover our spiritual essence through the transformative language of art.”

Inside MoNA. Image by the author

Rasna, sales and marketing executive for MoNA and manager of Kathmandu Art House, told BDG: “The Kathmandu Art Biennale marks a significant milestone as Nepal’s inaugural private-sector-driven art event. With a dedicated team, this spiritually themed Biennale offers diverse perspectives on spirituality through various artistic genres and meticulous curation. It is an honor to serve as a co-curator, contributing to the historic tapestry of Nepal’s art scene. Personally, as a passionate painter, this opportunity allows me to broaden my artistic horizons by curating meaningful paintings for this momentous occasion.”

What does spirituality mean for the enjoyer of art, the local Nepali citizen, or the foreign visitor to Kathmandu? This is an intensely personal question, one that the MoNA team hopes that the acclaimed artists of Nepal can help craft part of the answer for the individual seeker.

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Art Renaissance in Nepal: Ursula Manandhar and the Bridge Between Paubha and Neo-Traditional

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