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29/04/2018

Gopal Kalapremi Shrestha, when sculpture meets ceramics


 Bulls serie, ceramics

Sculptor, ceramist and visual artist, Gopal Kalapremi Shrestha is a Nepali artist who occupies an important place in the artistic milieu of his country. He creates, exhibits, animates workshops and participates in residences in Nepal and abroad since the 1980s. His production is a unique universe, inspired by tribal shapes that he revisits with very clean lines of great sophistication. Gopal Shrestha freely uses all that surrounds him: clay, plants, minerals, wax, metal, sand, sawdust, gold leaf and many other mediums to give us his own vision of the world through a syncretic prism. If one clearly distinguishes the influence of Nepalese tribal art, especially the Tharu ethnic group living in the south of the country, the themes he addresses are directly related to his country's most contemporary period and the difficulties that it crosses. His creations are divided into several series with contrasting aesthetic styles, such as the one devoted to the revolutionary period that shook Nepal from 1996 to 2006 or his latest series of tribal-inspired chess pieces Tharu. His work derives from his observation of the socio-cultural transformations of Nepal but also reflects the cultural syncretism characteristic of Nepali society. From the people's war to gender relations to the exile of Nepali youth seeking a better life abroad, many aspects of contemporary Nepalese society are being explored by Gopal Kalapremi Shrestha, who has an excellent perception of his society and exceptional sensitivity to grasp his surroundings.


Chess pieces serie, ceramics



Coming from a modest family, but from a caste where the work of the land is not an acceptable occupation, nothing will come to block his desire to become an artist ceramist and sculptor. He will hold various positions to finance his studies in an art school: "I had many jobs when I was young, I washed dishes in restaurants, did laundry  for hotels, I cooked , tinkered and finally I taught as soon as I could. All these experiences allowed me to finance my studies at the Fine Art Lalit Kala Campus in Kathmandu and to start my career as a sculptor in the 1980s. "He then began to read books on art, especially the ceramic. Afterwards, his travels abroad allowed him to observe ceramics from different traditions and to interact with ceramists. "I have always asked my ceramicist friends from outside Nepal to bring me something useful when they come here, they gave me books, gloves and other equipment that is valuable because these are things that can’ t be bought in Nepal. It is also difficult to get quality materials and produce them myself became a necessity because it was impossible to import the chemicals needed for my work. That is why I quickly began researching chemicals and what could be extracted from minerals, different clays and Nepalese flora. With these materials I created my own recipes for colors and unique texture effects ".


 Exhibition of ceramic rocks, Taragaon museum, Kathmandu

Cultural transfers and the multiplication of exchanges have continually drawn the art of Gopal Kalapremi Shrestha into a series of mutations that contribute to the impression of diversity that one experiences in front of his work. Indeed, the artist travels often, both within his country and abroad, and feeds on the aesthetics and new techniques he faces: "During my youth I traveled to Nepal, then I went abroad and especially in Europe, where for example I learned new techniques from ceramic artists in the south of France, but now since the rise of the internet, I have access to many information from home ". His home, located in Kathmandu, houses his workshop and part of his work. Looking like a museum, it also hosts a collection of contemporary art, but above all, it welcomes artists who come here to learn the techniques of ceramics, such as Gopal has transformed and adapted it, forging a hybrid technical knowledge that he teaches to stimulate interest in Nepalese ceramics, different from traditional Asian ceramics: "In India and China, as well as in Japan, the art of ceramics is very developed whereas in Nepal there is very little ceramic. Artisans and artists often stick to pottery because the techniques of ceramics and cooking are more complex and require material difficult to find in Nepal. Yet the earth is a very lively matter and is everywhere. Moreover, thanks to the technique and a little sensitivity it is possible to offer nobility to this matter yet so humble and easy to find. I turned to this material naturally, because instinctively I was attracted to it ".  Gopal also travels regularly to a pottery community Tharu, a tribe who practices the art of pottery but does not know ceramics, to introduce them to this art.




 Masculinism serie, ceramics

By combining technical skills and in-depth knowledge of materials with great inventiveness, Gopal Kalapremi Shrestha is an explorer of forms and materials: "It seems crucial to me to combine one’s technical and gestural skills with knowledge of the materials themselves . In my eyes, materials have their own language, both organic and social. Today, the majority of artists buy manufactured materials and do not always realize what they are made of; nevertheless, when one is interested in the organic nature of the material and the imaginary associated with the material, one manages a better control of his work. Each technique also has a language. For example the technique of raku (technique of ceramic cooking inherited from Japan) makes it possible to obtain cracks whose writing is particular and recognizable, but which varies according to each piece ".



In addition to his creative work, Gopal Kalapremi Shrestha teaches at the Kathmandu University Center for Art and Design and has also taught at Jeonju University in South Korea. He animated ceramic workshop in Korea, Pakistan, France, Denmark, Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka. He has published several books on ceramics and sculpture techniques as well as poems. This interdisciplinary artist carries out a work of cultural interbreeding that highlights the contrasts of the modern and traditional society in which he evolves. To discover more about his work I invite you to follow the following link to his facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/gopalkalapremi.shrestha?ref=br_rs