Lalitpur -3, Nepal
+977 1 5528810
Simrik Atelier: A Space for Traditional Art of Nepal
Where philosophy is in union with Art!
Simrik Atelier is a school, studio, and art gallery, for one of Nepal’s richest painting traditions, Paubha (Newari painting). Simrik Atelier’s purpose is to prepare the next generation of Paubha artists. Our goal is to ensure the beauty and knowledge contained within this unique Newar traditional art form is passed on to future generations. Our school prepares the artist with the purpose to not only advance personally, but also to become future teachers. While we adopt teaching practices refined over centuries, we do not condone the strict caste based vocational limitations placed upon society. To make this uniquely Nepali art form accessible to everyone, we offer opportunities to those who are underprivileged and need to learn self-empowering technical knowledge. We also encourage women, a minority among Paubha artists, to take up this profession.
Simrik Atelier was founded by renowned Paubha artist, Lok Chitrakar. Lok Chitrakar is a self-taught Paubha artist that has been referred to as, “the Maker and Saver of Paubha.” Over the last 40 years, Lok Chitrakar has worked to keep Paubha art current. The sacred art form of Paubha is a visual interpretation of the Buddhist and Hindu philosophies as practiced in the Vajrayana tradition. Ritualistic symbolism is used to depict gods and goddesses in their different postures, according to ancient text. Once a viewer becomes aware of the symbolism each Paubha painting can be read like a text, aiding the practitioner in their meditation practice. After almost two centuries, Paubha is becoming popular again. Many people are familiar with Thangka art (popularized by Tibetan Buddhism) but are unaware that Paubha was the original art form. Historically, from the 7th century reign of the Tibetan king, Sron Tsan Gampo, Newars were hired to train Tibetan artists to paint religious paintings which were predominantly prepared in the Paubha style of the Kathmandu Valley.
“[Lok Chitrakar said] ‘Back in the old days, people believed that these kinds of knowledge should be kept secret. Our art and culture are in no way second to that of the west. While they had Leonardo da Vinci and the likes, we had our own master painters and craftsmen. The only problem is that we didn’t keep any records.’ To avoid further danger, Chitrakar and his contemporaries have been sharing their knowledge with as many budding artists as they can to ensure that Paubha survives.” (Shreesha Nankhwa)
Paubha is not only important to Nepal, it is a world heritage jewel that we must preserve. Being an artist offers a wide range of opportunities in terms of employment and economic gains, but more importantly, as a means for the advancement of wisdom and compassion. Simrik is the Nepali word for the deep red color of crimson; in Buddhist symbolism it represents compassion. The goal for our students is to first understand artistic techniques and iconography, and eventually also be able to use old text as a primary source for future images, in the way of ancient tradition. These are not images made only for the sake of beauty, but also for transmitting universal truths that are easily understood by anyone who can observe.