sujan chitrakar – a perspective
by madan chitrakar, art writer / artist 

to anyone familiar with nepali art, sujan chitrakar must remain a familiar name, for he remains one of the leading and most active artists today. and he among a very few, has also some rare qualities that describe an honest artist – a genuine respect for all forms of art and an insatiable thirst to learn and know more about any art- regardless of when and where it is created. as a result, for sure, no one knows better than him the importance being a well-informed artist. also, he is one of the few – well aware that why an artist must remain always in a state of creativity to stay relevant. so since his debut to this moment, he has proven time and again that he has the ability, courage, and the strength to make a correct judgement in his expressions. moreover, unlike many, he practices and preaches what he believes. besides, the array of multi-faceted roles he has in the present day social fabric and the numerous activities he is engaged in today testify this creative energy. it all leads to a singular point – he indeed remains an artist to the core. but this attainment has not come so easy. it has come as a result of not one but an accumulation of many and some unique factors that has shaped his unique career.

first and foremost is a fact that sujan chitrakar has proven lucky to have been born in a family of ‘chitrakars’ – a community of traditional painters within the ethnic newars of kathmandu valley. since the fourteenth century circa, the community of chitrakars have been ordained by the state to look after all the art related activities of the state – thus virtually making them the sole custodians all the growth and development of the art of painting in nepal (kathmandu valley). so needless to say that when one is born and brought–up in such an environment, one is consciously or unconsciously bound to get inspired and deeply influenced with the traditions around him. and sujan chitrakar remains a glaring example. since his very childhood he has remained extremely lucky to have been exposed to this rich tradition of art. and obviously, the impressions and the love for art he carried during this tender psyche remained deeply ingrained for ever and it never left him.

secondly, for sujan although this early phase would always remain very important in his career, time would prove that it would to remain a symbolic starting point. for when he did reach a time and stage to make his own individual statement, sujan’s expressions and his visual language resembled little with the home-grown art practices he had seen in his childhood. in each of his public appearances as a creative artist, he displayed in no uncertain ways that he has the capability to evolve his own mode of expressions and make the best judgement to choose the right elements best suited to translate his thoughts and feelings. and it transcended all the traditional barriers. this unique sense of judgement and the ability to create originality may or must have been the result of the academic discipline he has had followed during his higher education in fine art. or partly, it may also have been an outcome of natural instincts inherent in him to make an independent self-expression through a contemporary visual language.

thirdly, it is equally interesting to see what makes sujan a successful contemporary visual artist and where his thoughts are usually rooted. a careful observer may have noted that his public appearances have revealed that sujan as an artist has always remained a man with varied and dynamic thoughts. and at the same time, he is always seen concerned and sensitive to whatever the happenings taking place around him. and more than once, many of his works have essentially remained an artist’s responses and reactions to the events or occasionally, an expression of his personal – often emotional thoughts as well. here it may be noted that whenever a work of ‘art’ becomes a combination of a strong concept and an expressed through a well planned tools and medium, it is bound to emerge of exceptional quality. sujan’s art unmistakably belongs to this unique category. as a result, regardless of the themes like satire to statement, purest joy of his desolated moments or an utopian fantasy, it have always brought out the desired effects and the needed impact on the viewers. he has always succeeded to reveal this unique combination as described above. his works of art therefore, be it paintings or installations or the performances –all have remained equally strong and sure remain the vivid examples of his high intellect and creative strength.

while talking about the ways he evolves his creative language for any particular chosen theme, the first thing he does after making sure of his conceptual contents, is to look coolly for  the range of mode of expressions or the tools that suit best or adjudged ‘would be most expressive.’

and, as sujan remains an adept in many of the technical modes, the choice of medium has never been a hard exercise for him. in fact the spectrum of choices is literally too wide for him and all he needed to do to make the right decision. moreover, his liberal views allow him free from all the traditional thoughts and for him thus the sky is the limit in making a choice. here what matters most is the right judgement. a usual baggage of stylistic resemblances from earlier works also does not bother sujan. precisely because of these liberal views and combined with all the needed contemporary skills and gadgets, sujan has had many opportunities to display the strange versatility in his expressions so far. and these qualities have naturally led him to the place he is in today.

another important facet of sujan’s persona is as an artist with a very tolerant views and a rare positive attitude. this is best displayed by his profound love and respect for other visual arts -including the aspects of ‘art applied for graphic or visual communications’- a field many of the so-called creative artists scorn and hate to tread. but sujan although trained as a creative artist, since a pretty length of time, has consistently revealed an exceptional flair and talent in this genre. his sense of modern graphic communications must be admired and compared in the sense that it deserves no less respect than is accorded to any best any where in the genre. a common wisdom has it that in a highly specialised field like ‘graphic communications’ one either needs to get exposed to academic discipline or one most have inherent knack or a natural aptitude to achieve such a unique taste and skill. sujan’s accomplishments in this genre must be attributed to his constant quest, natural instincts and love for the genre. many of the exotic illustrations and the innumerable number of designs for print stand vivid testimony of this statement.

and lastly, a mention of yet another front must be made where sujan is presently, making a significant contributions as a successful art educator. as an art teacher and the academic programme coordinator, centre for art and design, kathmandu university, sujan must consider himself a fortunate, for it has provided him not only a wonderful platform to impart and preach the modern views and the tricks he has in the field but also a fact that he is able to make a long run contributions of creating generations of newer visual artists and communicators every year. and this makes more sense and significant at a time when there is a wide spread lamentation of rampant academic indiscipline and a persistent state of confusion. sujan’s clear vision and well-meaning guidance must be considered a meaningful and a timely alternative to a quality art education in nepal. the society in general must acknowledge and recognise his sincere efforts in this regard. and it does provide reasons for hopes in future.

conclusively, on the social front too, sujan has proven be no less active. he remains one of the early brains to have initiating ‘sutra’- a working group of contemporary visual artists – committed to alternative art. and in the past, this group has remained instrumental in creating many platforms for new forms which would certainly stay as pioneering efforts in the annals of nepali art in the days to come. in the recent times too, sujan has the privilege of initiating “pechakucha night kathmandu” as an organiser. this initiative, it is hoped, would be able to bring diverse set of people in a common platform.

in conclusion therefore, with certainty it can safely be asserted that sujan indeed remains one of the very few promising artists of nepal today who has the vision and the ability to take nepali art far beyond the physical borders of nepal and take on the international arena. moreover as he is relatively young and thus represents a younger generation, sujan has the needed appetite and an ability to embrace any kind of changing realities taking place in global art and integrate it locally.

with all the best wishes in making ‘nepali art’ a global phenomenon and reclaim its rightful place once again in future.

madan chitrakar
art writer / artist


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