Paintings As a tourism product

Most painters have more artistic talent and offerings than they know. Nepal has all sorts of interesting painters and many of these people are more than happy to show the world what they have accomplished.

By Banita Khanal

Painting is a mode of creative expression. Numerous studies from around the world have shown that people, who include arts in their travel plans, often have higher income levels than other tourists. They have a greater likelihood of staying in local hotel, taking longer trips and shopping more.

Nepal has been continuously overlooking this lucrative segment. Why paintings are considered just a part and not a product as a whole? It’s now time for us to realize the scope of paintings tourism and act accordingly. Nepal has all sorts of scope for awesome paintings. The unique culture, tradition, people, the panoramic nature, temples and heritages deserves to be painted. In fact, they have to be presented in paintings and transferred to other places so that tourism in Nepal would be promoted more.

One of the reasons for this consistent overlooking may be the fact that real painters are more into paintings than the promotions. In the beginning, foreigners used to be target customer for art galleries in Nepal. Nepalis hardly bought paintings during those days.  They were largely unaware of galleries. If they needed one; they would to get it from their contact. But the scenario has changed now. Nepalis are more focused on artists, rather than price.

"The Door" by Bijay Maharjan (Courtesy: Madan Chitrakar)
“The Door” by Bijay Maharjan (Courtesy: Madan Chitrakar)

Pricing a painting has also been a problem in art industry. In the beginning, gallery owners used to charge a painting based on the number of days it took for completion rather than the quality of that painting. But now they have learned a proper way of pricing a painting. Paintings these days are rated based on a base price. The base price can either be a cost that is charged by a very high profile artist or a charge of a very low profile artist.

“We were the first to start an art gallery in Thamel”,  B R Shrestha, Proprietor of Nirvana Art Gallery, said. “Because of the political insurgency, we used the same price list prepared in 1995 for 15 years. We updated it 6 years back only. But we give 15 % discount on each and every art we sell.”

Another problem faced by painters in Nepal is that many art galleries focus on buying and selling only. They don’t focus on artists and their specialization, they just focus on profit, they said.

Mainly paintings of Nepal can be classified based on the subject matter and the material used. Under the subject matter, the paintings can be classified as landscape, cityscape, and abstract, semi abstract and modern art. Similarly under the used material, they classify their paintings as charcoal, water colour, acrylic paintings and oil portrait.

If we can promote paintings tourism wisely, we can get more tourists. Most painters have more artistic talent and offerings than they know. Nepal has all sorts of interesting painters and many of these people are more than happy to show the world what they have accomplished.

For promoting paintings tourism, we should first encourage hotels and lodges to include local paintings as a showpiece in their walls. Perhaps the number one complaint among frequent travelers to Nepal is that franchised hotels lack individuality. A local painting can be a way to give a hotel lobby a special local flavor. Display of local paintings could allow painters to make profit. Also, hotels can boast of unique attraction.

The tourism industry should not underestimate the value of paintings.  The first thing that can be done is to ask local restaurants, coffee houses or even hotels to have the local paintings on their walls. The art galleries should come in front and promote local paintings.

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