Govinda Azad: The Rajbiraj boy!

govind_1Govinda Sah ‘Azad’ was born in 1974, in Rajbiraj, Nepal. Madhesi, by ethnicity, Mr. Azad is a source of inspiration for many artists and youths from Madhes. He had an artistic inclination towards drawing and sculpture since his childhood. In 1988 he got first position in District level art competition in Nepal. This further inspired him to pursue his career in art. Hailing from a poor family, art as a career was a difficult choice. Since art is not considered to be a financially rewarding career, Mr. Azad was suggested by family and friends to leave his artistic venture, but his strong will and love for art kept him moving and beat all the odds to establish himself as a renowned artist.

His struggle as an artist from an under-developed nation made him an iron willed person. He left Nepal in search of livelihood India in 1991 and started working as a sign board and wall painter in Delhi. In 1995, he returned back to Kathmandu and joined the Fine Art College to realize his dream to become an artist. While he was studying, Mr. Azad participated in many group exhibitions and in 1999 he successfully did his first solo exhibition. Appreciating his dedication and iron will, Campus Chief of the Fine Art College and prominent artist Prof. Govinda Dongol dubbed him as “Lion Heart”.

This was the decade of Maoist insurgency in Nepal and violence was rampant. The Maoist guerrilla and state security forces frequently had skirmishes and the whole nation was torpedoed into a perpetual violence. As an artist, this affected Mr. Azad and from he began a nation-wide cycle tour to spread the awareness of peace through art under title “The 21st Century is the Century of Art and Peace” in March, 2000. He continued his cycle tour across Nepal till June,, 2000. During the three month tour, he held several art shows, workshops, and gave lectures in schools and to community groups to plea people to forsake violence as a political tool and promote dialogue to resolve political differences. He was widely covered in national media and promoted as a champion of non-violence in Nepal.

.. on a nation-wide cycle tour to spread the awareness of peace through art under title “The 21st Century is the Century of Art and Peace” in March, 2000.

His hard work kept him beating all the odds. In 2003 he was awarded with First Talent award In International Leo youth camp, Nepal. To keep his formal knowledge and academic pursuit in arts, he joined Bachelors in Fine Arts, Tribhuvan University, Nepal. Later, in 2006, he continued his academic pursuit with Masters in Fine Arts, University of Development Alternative, Dhaka, Bangladesh. He was awarded Best Young Artist, 7th Bangladesh International Artist Awards, Bangladesh. He did not stop there, after receiving a private sponsorship, he moved to UK to pursue MFA in Wimbledon College of Art, University of the Arts, London, UK. Since 2011, well known international October Gallery in London, representing Govinda Azad in UK,  Europe and Middle-East.

Mr. Azad, a prolific artist, has held many solo and group art exhibitions in Nepal and internationally in many countries spreading from Nepal to Europe to Middle-East. He has also co-ordinated many art workshops in Nepal.

Mr. Azad has keen interest in Nepali society and politics. He wants the politics of violence to end and recently the government used excessive force on the peaceful protests of Madhesis against their demands unheard in newly promulgated constitution, Mr. Azad couldn’t hold back and in protest he burned his arts. His interview can be listened here.

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Mr. Azad with his friends at an art exhibition

Along with his apolitical appeal to all parties in Nepal to forsake violence as a political tool, Mr. Azad has earned many accolades from esteemed persons involved in art. “Govinda’s intention in his work is to demonstrate the invisible by means of the visible. In other words, in visually depicted cloud movements he attempts to paint invisible concepts such as morality, the environment, the sublime and spirituality. Almost every religion has adopted clouds as symbols of creation, fertility or heaven. In this there is commonality between religions. His MA thesis was entitled “Can clouds re-established the symbolic interpretation of spirituality and sublime contemporary art?” The paper examined how artists from JMW Turner to contemporary artist Anish Kapoor have used clouds to represent spirituality or the sublime. His choice of subject matter began with landscape and temples from his country, Nepal and even included a three month solo cycle tour of Nepal. However, while painting the Annapurna Mountain range from Pokhara he experienced a sublime sun rise. Clouds that began like small bubbles eventually filled the sky. The subject of his paintings from that moment changed.” Says Dr. Lynn Gamwell, Lecturer, School of Visual Arts, New York.

Mr. Azad with various dignitaries, explaining his art

Mr. Azad’s work suggests an infinite universe, he portrays the invisible space through visible clouds. He tries to echo the Hindu philosophy of existence and omnipotence of God. He portrays the presence of God everywhere and elucidates that nothing is in absence of God. Author Anthony Blake remarked his work as, “His very tangible, textured, exquisite and astonishing canvases are windows into primordial worlds and the mystery of how nothing becomes something”.

Few of his exhibitions are listed below:

2013 October Gallery, London, UK (solo)

2013 The Universe Within, Tibet House, New York, USA (solo)

2013 Art Dubai, October Gallery (London, UK), Dubai, UAE

2013 Art13, October Gallery (London, UK), London, UK

2012 Abu Dhabi Art, October Gallery (London, UK), Dubai, UAE

2012 244th Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK

2012 Space for Mind: Space for Art, The Spring Projects, London, UK

2012 Shristi-Chakra (Wheel of Creation), Art Konsult, New Delhi, India (solo)

2012 Emotion in Motion, Siddhartha Gallery, Kathmandu, Nepal (solo)

2011 Visionen über dem Dach der Welt, Kunst am Spalenberg Gallery, Basel, Switzerland (solo)

2011 Transcriptions, October Gallery, London, UK (solo)

2011 No Edge No Centre, The Muse Gallery, London, UK (solo)

2011 Abu Dhabi Art, with October Gallery, UK

2011 Sky Lab, Stephen Mclaughlan Gallery, Melbourne, Australia

2011 Contemporary Art from Himalayan Countries, Tam Gallery, Tallinn, Estonia

2011 Transvangarde Now, October Gallery, London, UK

2010 Land Without Map, Affordable Art Fair, Battersea Park, London, UK

2010 Himalayan Festival, Nehru Centre, Mayfair, London, UK

2010 Independents Liverpool Biennial, Liverpool Centre for Fine Arts, Liverpool, UK

2010 Inspired by Morris, William Morris Gallery, London, UK

2009 Separating Myth from Reality: State of Women, International Art Festival, Kathmandu, Nepal

2009 Apocalypse Now, Red Wire, Liverpool, UK

2009 The Cloud, Saltburn Artists’ Projects, Saltburn-by-the-Sea, UK

2009 Unfold Invention, Siddhartha Gallery, Kathmandu, Nepal (solo)

2009 Meditating the Abstract, Asia House, London, UK (solo)

2006 Ashaka Khambaharu (Pillars of Hope), Siddhartha Art Gallery, Kathmandu, Nepal (solo)

2006 Colours of Peace, Singha Art Gallery, Lalitpur, Nepal (solo)

2004 Peace through Painting, National Art Gallery, Shilpakala Academy, Dhaka, Bangladesh (solo)

2004 Pioneer Personality of Saptari, Library Lakhnath, Rajbiraj, Nepal (solo)

2004 Conflict of Peace in Nepal, Basantpur Durbar Square, Nepal (solo)

2003 Painting for Peace, British Council, Kathmandu, Nepal (solo)

2002 The 21st Century is the Century of Art and Peace, Nehru Center, Mumbai, India (solo)

2001 Colour of Nature, Nepal Art Council Gallery, Kathmandu, Nepal (solo)

2001 21st Century is the Century of Art and Peace, Nationwide Art Campaign for Peace, Bhojan Griha, Kathmandu, Nepal (solo)

1999 Bhojan Griha, Kathmandu, Nepal (solo)

1999 Govinda Sah ‘Azad’, Explore Nepal Group, Bhojan Griha, Kathmandu, Nepal (solo)

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