traces, fragments, and anecdotes

“शिलु प्यारी प्राय: प्रचलित धेरै शैली र शिल्पविधिमा काम गर्नु हुन्छ, तर “वाश” उहाँको प्रिय शिल्पविधि हो। विषय र शैली अनुकूल माध्यमलाई प्रयोग गर्ने कुरामा उहाँ रूचि राख्नु हुन्छ जस्तै भावप्रधान विषयको चित्रिकरण जलरंगको माध्यमले “वाश” शिल्पविधिमा, लोकपरम्परा (लोकनृत्य, लोकगीत, लोककथा जस्ता) का विशय टेम्परामा, अमूर्त शैली र रचनाप्रधान विषयको चित्रणमा तैलरंगको माध्यमला‌ई उहाँ प्राय: अपनाउनु हुन्छ।”

नारायण बहादुर सिंह, “समसामयिक नेपाली चित्र कलाको इतिहास,” नेपाल राजकीय प्रज्ञा-प्रतिष्ठान, २०३३ साल, काठमाडौँ, पृष्ठ २७३

How do archives emerge? In what forms can we encounter them? Sheelu Pyari’s personal collection offers us an intimate yet fractured glimpse into a life of an artist mapped transregionally across pedagogical and national art institutions. Educated in the immediate aftermath of India’s independence, Sheelu Pyari spent much of her formative years being simultaneously trained in fine arts and economics in Maharashtra and Rajasthan. This tin box contains photographic remnants - almost all framed slightly off kilter - of some of the early studies of still life, portraiture, and watercolor painting she created as a student.

What is characteristic of Sheelu Pyari’s personal collection is a sort of thinness of archives and yet, from a select few images and catalogs, the shift from a filial space to an institutional one becomes evident as she takes on administrative roles with the executive board of the National Association of Fine Arts (NAFA) in the 60s. Posing in front of a camera with figures such as Bal Krishna Sama, Tej Bahadur Chitrakar, Lain Singh Bangdel, R N Joshi, and Pramila Giri, or participating in the First India Triennale (1968) as a Commissioner, Sheelu Pyari was firmly situated in the emergence of these spaces of artistic transmissions.

There is a part of Sheelu Pyari’s life that is more in the public eye - her political life as a member of the parliament in the National Assembly between 1995-2001 and chairperson of Sarvodaya, a non-profit social welfare organization. And yet, she remains an obscured figure. It is through her fragmented collection, one can get a semblance of her life, as an artist, an administrator, and a politician. This patchwork of materials also speaks to the archival impulses through which we choose who to remember and how.

To read more:
Living-in-Archives: Traces, Fragments and Anecdotes on Shilu Pyari by Dipti Sherchan.


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