KGB: A Small Dot Shaping Future

October 16, 2014 , by Kritika Lamsal, 1 Comment
KGB: A Small Dot Shaping Future » My Dreams Mag
A dot with immense potential is what she actually is. The potential she discovered after hanging around as an ordinary management student. Back in 2007, Kanchan G Burathoki was just among the millions as an Economics student with routine life until one day she decided to let herself go. She felt something missing in her and that compelled the girl from Kathmandu to take Bachelors in Fine Arts. Diverting from a field she was excelling at, she followed her passion ignoring the doubts of fetching stability. With a steady career-graph to look back on, she has now become an achiever at an age of 29.

ast May, DREAMS talked to KGB during her first exhibition ‘Ukus-Mukus’. This interval of a year and a half has taken her on a journey away from home, deeper into artistic practice and realm of opportunities. Even though a lot seems to have changed, she still feels the same.
“I always get asked how my work has changed over the years. Frankly, I don’t consider my work to have changed dramatically. That being said, I gradually grow along with every work I produce. Especially in a class setting, critiques and discussion are bound to happen. This makes you question your own work, breaking the rigidity of your preconceived notions. I like it when new doors open up. The comfort that I have gained to view my work through varied perspective is the growth I attained.”

KGB’s growth revolved around the journey she made from Kathmandu to Kalv. KGB was still to apply her studies in practice but she took a bold step presenting Kathmandu with her first ever exhibition ‘Ukus Mukus’. To her dismay, her maiden attempt took a nose-dive after she faced severe criticism since her art piece included poetry and words. But she accepted them with candor. It’s scary when you doubt on your abilities to make people relate to your art. Doubts started kicking in at that point of time.

But potential always surpasses doubt. Her perspective on life readily transported her back on track. She is a believer of small growing opportunities, not massive turnarounds. The small growth, brick-by-brick will bring transformations. After joining the Masters in Fine Arts at the University of Gotenburg, she has found encouragement to act as per her will. Recently, in an offsite project on exhibition making, she was expected to respond to a new surrounding of Kalv. With courage, she used her words again. She braved the criticism that once shook her.
"In my limited time on the site of Kalv, I failed to construct any connection with the place. The only response I got from the place was that it was normal for me to feel disconnected. In life, we sometimes have nothing to offer to one another. I couldn’t find a better way to express it than through words. Instead of a pencil, I used a shovel this time. Only hope is that the words engraved can generate visuals in the observer’s mind.”

Some things in life bring you at ease. But if you stick with it all your life, you will lose out on many discoveries yet to come. For KGB, the process of flow of words is not fabricated through efforts. With comfort, she finds it to be the best way to express her rambles. But she believes that art forms are contingent to situations. Her comfort with words isn’t enough to choose it as her exclusive forte.

“I am yet to achieve my significance. There are many things that are undone. In years to come, I might change the way of approaching my art. If I get stuck right now, I will never grow into things I need to.”
One thing that hasn’t lost its consistency is the influence of Kathmandu in her life. Although she is miles away from Kathmandu, the connection she feels with her home is unaltered. “Every work I reflect on, I realize that it has been linked with my life back in Nepal. Experiences from home are always at the back of my head. When I was digging in Kalv, it reminded me of my bajai (grandmother) farming back at home. A few years back, I made a drawing from the pattern of a gundri and another one on observing the semi circular pattern on the neck of the lion statues erected at the entrance of Basantapur. Lines in the city are collage of square cut pictures of the electricity wires dangling on the poles of Kathmandu. So, yes, I have to say that my roots affect my art.”
Lines in the City
The connection she feels with Kathmandu contradicts with the fact that she likes distance in the current situation. “I need to be academically sound and for that I have to be away from home where I can approach my work with wider perspective. Here, far from home, I can objectively approach my field. I want to squeeze all these skills that I have gathered over the years all over Kathmandu.”

The process of becoming a successful artist seems to be revolving solely around the artist’s work, but there are veiled components in account. “Applying for grants, getting scholarships, knowing the right people are just as important as your art. Here, we have a course called professional development which strives at helping you market your own work. From financing to networking, you need it all to succeed. Just like any other profession, it is not just about passion but also rigorous efforts.”

Drawing inspired from Basantapur
When she was 19, she started working as a part time reporter for The Kathmandu Post. This gave her a boost to start her own personal blog. Later, she was offered job as coordinator for the art page in Republica. Being a reporter provided her insights into the Nepali art that she couldn’t have gained otherwise. Going out in the city to interview people in this field gave her an absolute advantage as she could peek into her own possible future. This opportunity grew into something bigger than just writing. Every opportunity influenced her to become what she is now.

Since she draws inspiration from tiny and random things, romanticism is not the feature of her work. For instance, a ride on the bus has visually inspired her more than an iconic art piece on a gallery. “Rather than specific artists, particular art pieces generate inspiration. Even better, a stroll down the streets can make me see random things on a different light. Personally, the patterned carvings on the old temples never fail to amuse me. The minute details put into such carvings are worthy of anyone’s attention.”

On the same note, KGB talks about Persepolis — a book by a Persian writer Marjane Satrapi about the experiences growing up during the Iranian revolution. The autobiographical book resonates to the artwork she is currently working on. “As every other artist, I put up my feelings across the table. This time, the piece I am working on is more personal than anything I have ever done. Its about a single mother who had an intercaste marriage raising her two kids."

"’Timro buwa le k garnu huncha? (What does your father do?)’ is the question asked without a speck of hesitation even before you know anything about a person you just met. The answer will instantly create assumption and you picture the way a family functions.

Pattern inspired from Gundri
These situations are deeply rooted in our society of presumptions and judgment making it extremely tough to address. I want my work to intrigue people to question the normality of these situations. I want everyone to look at it objectively.”
Artists put a piece of themselves up on display for people to interpret. Even the most outgoing people would feel terrified to open up like artists do. “It is never easy. You always feel vulnerable. But rather than staying in a stagnant comfort zone, I choose to make myself vulnerable to experience growth. Putting away a story means that other people with similar stories will never be courageous enough to tell theirs. I can’t control the things people say but I do have control over the way I choose to deal with it. The main thing I want my art to do is to engage people through dialogue and debates, even in my absence. To achieve this, I need to let every feedback flow without being defensive.”
Pomegranate. 11" x 20" Screen print on Lokta
KGB wants to live in a world where people aren’t given tags. Art is an expression of imagination and the practice to demonstrate it in reality on a canvass, photographs, stages, or even on someone’s face. The meaning of art goes beyond paints and pencils. Though the portals to express their work are different, a photographer and a makeup artist both are expressing their imagination. It is unfair to tag someone as an artist and discarding the other. She believes that a tag boxes people. It creates generalization depriving them of the chances to evolve into something better.
“I don’t want to get confined in a box. I don’t want people to stereotype how an artist needs to be. I see myself working in the art education in Nepal. Working alongside aspiring art students would be an absolute delight. I would want my skills to come in assistance to break stereotypes, raise issues and solve problems prevailing at home. I not only want to raise issues but also help produce a large mass of knowledgeable artists who will emulate me. As an artist, putting my work on display is not the end of my responsibility. It’s often easy to dismiss people when they aren’t compatible with us. But I want to see a world where everyone tries to overcome this barrier by going an extra mile.”

KGB is an artist with perseverance, patience and a resilience. Her being is not the result of her desire but a need the Nepali art has. It is neither a role she plays nor a job she aspires towards, this is her fuel. A fuel when ignited will drive not only her, but also the whole nation to a better place.

Gaau Khaane Kathaa
There were moments when doubts were cast in her passion, but even a hope that weighs tip of a needle is enough to keep her afloat. Her concern for the whole art community of Nepal has inspired many. This could be the right time for the small art community of Nepal to work towards solidarity dismissing the competitiveness to bring a better form of art education in Nepal. It’s a long way to go but everything has to start from a point, assembling the myriads of small dots. Kanchan Gurung Burathoki is one of them.

To learn more about Kanchan and her works, please follow her blog http://kanchang.wordpress.com

: grandmother
Ukus-Mukus: discomfort or suffocation
Gundri: a carpet, usually made out of straw

In conversation with Kritikia Lamsal.

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Categorised in: Arts

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