Navindra Man Rajbhandari, the Vice Chair of Sirjana College of Fine Arts, has significantly contributed towards the development of fine arts as an artist, an art writer and a faculty member specializing in art history. edInbox had a detailed conversation with him to know about the state of fine arts in Nepal. Here are the excerpts:

Navindra Man Rajbhandari

edInbox: Since you have been involved with fine arts for quite a long time, please enlighten us as to what fine arts is.

Rajbhandari: Everything that we humans execute is a form of art. Every activity that we conduct requires a special skill and hence that knowledge in itself is an art.

Fine arts is a kind of art that pleases the eyes in such a way that it touches your soul and enlightens your mind. Fine arts appeals to our aesthetic sensibilities. Beauty has always enticed human beings and art that manages to expose this beauty in its purest form can be defined as fine arts.

edInbox: What is the scope of fine arts in the Nepalese market?

Rajbhandari: The scope of fine arts is immense in contemporary Nepal as the demand for illustrators, cartoonists, animators, tattoo artists and designers is increasing.

When I had studied fine arts some 25 to 30 years back, the scope of fine arts was extremely limited. However, today things have changed. We require teachers who can tell us about art. Art has become one of the essential parts of the school curriculum. To inculcate the practice of good art, skillful teachers with sufficient knowledge of art are of critical importance.

edInbox: How well acquainted are parents about the existence of fine arts as an educational field and how supportive are they of their children, who wish to pursue fine arts as their career?

Rajbhandari: Well, honestly, awareness amongst parents about fine arts is increasing slowly and steadily.

However, there are still many parents who believe that fine arts is not something that you pursue as a separate educational course. Parents have this belief that fine arts is something that you pursue as your hobby and not as your career.

In addition, parents’ support for their children learning fine arts is not as much as for other courses like management or engineering. This is so as parents have still not understood the fact that every child has his/ her own abilities and not every child is meant to pursue hardcore technical courses.

In most of the cases, parents are not very efficient at recognizing their child’s intelligence and interests and making sure that their choices of career is in alignment with their passions and desires.

edInbox: How well aligned do you think is the course curriculum of Nepalese fine arts education with international fine arts education?

Rajbhandari: The basic concepts for any subject have always been the same across the world. In case of fine arts too, the course curriculum is in alignment with international standards. In fact, the pedagogy and the human resources that we have in this sector are of supreme quality.

What we lack is physical infrastructure. We, in our country, have not been able to develop the infrastructure required for fine arts.

edInbox: In your opinion, has fine arts education been updated according to the demands of time? Does it currently ensure the overall development of the students?

Rajbhandari: Until 2000, Nepal had only one college for fine arts, which was known as Lalit Kala Campus. In 2001, we established the Sirjana College. After that, Kathmandu University also opened a separate division for fine arts named as the Center for Art and Design.

The course curriculum has also been updated and today we can see many young minds, who are aspiring to become artists. The student enrollments in fine arts colleges have also been increasing. Today, even the master’s course for fine arts is being pursued.

There exists no doubt that fine arts is in its expansionary phase. However, if we have to compare the development of fine arts with the development of other educational sectors like management, hospitality and the likes, it can be considered as slow-paced.

edInbox: Is there any specific reason so as to why the number of colleges that exist for fine arts education are less in number?

Rajbhandari: Fine arts is a very special subject, which can be pursued only by people with special talents and abilities. The number of people who are willing and capable of pursuing fine arts education are not that huge. Therefore, the number of institutions that exist for fine arts are less too.

Instead of focusing on increasing the number of fine arts institutions, we should try to uplift the quality of institutions that already exist in order to ensure the excellence in the delivery of education.

edInbox: Nepal has a rich tradition in fine arts, whether we are talking about Arniko or we are talking about Laxmi Prasad Devkota. Do you believe that Nepal naturally has a better scope for fine arts?

Rajbhandari: Nepal can show the world the two most important qualities it possesses – its cultural heritage and its natural resources. One of the major components of Nepal’s cultural heritage is fine arts. The sad thing, however, is that we have not been able to preserve our monuments and cultural buildings. We have not yet shown our interest in preserving the cultural heritage we already possess.

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Reporting by Mahima Poddar, Glocal Khabar
Special Correspondent, Kathmandu, Nepal