Nirvana Art Gallery, situated in JP Road, Thamel, is a popular hangout for artists as well as art lovers. Though established in Patan in 1987, the gallery got the name – Nirvana Art Gallery – in 1993 only.
“We were the first to start an art gallery in Thamel”, BR Shrestha, proprietor of Nirvana Art Gallery, said.
Talking about the sale of paintings, Shrestha said they sold paintings as per the price prepared in 1995 for nearly 15 years. “It was very difficult for us to operate with the price quoted in 1995. That is why we updated the price six years ago, offering 15 percent discount,” added Shrestha.
There were just few galleries in Patan when Nirvana was established, Thamel had none. “But these days we find many art galleries in Thamel that focus on buying and selling only. They don’t focus on artists and their specialization; their focus is on profit,” Shrestha said, adding: “Unlike them, we value artists and their efforts. We sign contract with every artist that we work with.”
Nirvana has two galleries and full time artists. “We buy all the paintings done by our artists and they are not allowed to sell their paintings elsewhere. Other galleries buy paintings only when needed. This is the difference between Nirvana and other art galleries,” he added.
Shrestha himself is an artist. He has been involved in the sector since quite a long time. According to him, someone who runs an art gallery should be an artist himself or at least he should have proper knowledge about paintings. “If someone runs an art gallery just for profit, he is cheating his customer,” he added.
For novice, all paintings look the same. Being an artist himself, Shrestha can properly analyze any paintings.
Foreign tourists used to be the targeted customers of Nirvana Art Gallery in the beginning. Nepalis hardly bought paintings during those days. If they needed paintings, they used to get it from their contact. But now the scenario has changed. “But Nepalis focused on artists, not price while buying paintings,” he said, adding, “Foreigners, however, are buying at a low price because of unhealthy competition among galleries.”
Informing about pricing system, Shrestha said earlier they used to charge paintings on the basis of number of days required to complete a particular painting, not the quality of that painting. “Now we have learned a proper way of pricing a painting. We rate it according to 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,” he added.
Nirvana Art Gallery classifies their paintings based on the subject matter and the material used. Under the subject matter the paintings are 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. Though the price of the paintings depends slightly on the material too, that has a very less difference to make. They also have masterpiece paintings that are highly expensive. Cost of the masterpiece paintings ranges from Rs 100,000 to Rs 300,000.
“Foreigners love Nepal, and they love Nepali landscapes. I see a very good future of the paintings of Nepal but the problem is – these days’ people easily copy the paintings and sell it in their name just for making profit” Shrestha added
“These days, people have mobile camera in their hands. They click a picture of any art they see and copy it. The copy looks the same but the effort of that original painter is absent. These commercial artists sell that painting to the foreigners in lower price than the actual original painting would cost. Sometimes the original artists are blamed for the copy. This is sad,” Shrestha pointed out distortions in art business.
Nepal can be a very good subject for a painter. These painters should be encouraged to make their paintings to be a part of tourism industry. If we can control these duplicate copies, then definitely a worthy painter would be paid for his efforts.