- Taranath Sharma
- Robert Beer
- Lynn Gamwell
It was more than a couple of years ago that i happened to see Govinda's oil paintings Vividly depicting the important event of the Kot Massacre of 1846. I felt that a young artist with an unmatched zeal and an unusual talent was burgeoning forth in the world of modern Nepalese art. Since then this young man has moved on nonstop and shown his indomitable spirit of prolific creativity and scaled heights which his contemporaries may not ever dream.
A true Govinda successfully made a bicycle trip of Nepal from the eastern border to the western in 2000 wholly on his own. He took a period of almost three months to cover the distance but as he did, he came face to face with the rich cultural heritage, lingual variety and diverse and unique ways of living on the one hand and on the other hand, acute wants, abject poverty and unfathomable sorrows of his people living at the backdrop of the most ravishing natural beauty of the land. The emotions swelling within urged him to bring out his motherland in all its facets in his superb paintings along the way at different townships. He held solo exhibitions and in many places gave preliminary art lesson to young enthusiasts inspiration them to be a part of his objective that this is the century of art and peace.
Govinda is indeed an artist with a positive outlook in life. He struggle and struggles with all his might but for securing, retaining and maintaining peace, foe he feels that creativity all throughout the jags would go to naught if contemporary artist didn't strive collectively for peace in their work. He is particularly thrilled with historical personalities, their exploits and the events they have encountered to shape the future of mankind. He is equally given to religious sites and practices in which he tries to discover love for all human beings. He is not interested in various cults as he knows and feels that all major religions aim at the well-being, progress and prosperity of humankind and not at hatred, animosity and division. The religious message of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity is love, friendship and cooperation. All these great religious teach sacrifice and social service. And he is keen on this great message to depict in his paintings.
In modern age there are numerous areas where man is found as an entity carrying a live bomb with him. This situation is pernicious to the growth of civilization. It's art that can do away with evil and re-instate higher human values. Science's primitives times, from the Stone Age, human beings were led to civilization by their inner urge to create beautiful things. We can see even today excellent paintings inside ancient caves that ancestors of ours have left for us as a model follow. It is this treasury of creation that has inspired Govinda to make a world tour and see, learn and paint the intricate human embroidery of the Mother Earth.
Equipped with sufficient training and emboldened by his successful solo venture of all Nepal bicycle tour, Govinda is now plunging headlong into the vast expanse of our planet to enjoy both the beauty and ugliness of universal human living.©Dr. Tara Nath Sharma, Literary Critic, January 20, 2004
The first time I ever met Govinda Sah and saw his work was when I was invited to open his 'Transcriptions' exhibition at the October Gallery in London in late January 2011. He did very well on that particular opening night, with four or five of his larger and most dynamic works selling instantly, even as I was expressing my delight in these pieces from the gallery's podium. Shortly before we had talked briefly over the dinner table together, and I found Govinda to be a charmingly honest man, who was quite modest in his human persona, but highly determined to succeed in his artistic ambitions.
Govinda Sah was born in 1974 in the town of Rajbiraj, which lies close to the Indian border in the low-lying Terai region of southeastern Nepal. As one of six children he enjoyed drawing far more than any of his other school subjects, much to the annoyance of his parents who hoped he would go on to study science or engineering. So they nicknamed him 'Azad', meaning 'freedom', on account of his fiercely independent spirit. At the age of seventeen Govinda left his family home and moved to Delhi, where he worked as a sign painter for several years, before moving to the industrial suburb of Gurgaon, where he worked in a similar capacity at the Maruti car factory. After four years in India he had managed to save enough money to return to Nepal and enroll in Kathmandu's College of Fine Art in 1995, holding his first solo exhibition there in 1999. In the millennial year of 2000 Govinda undertook a cycle tour through Nepal during the height of the Maoist insurrection, with the innocent aim to 'spread the awareness of peace through art for the 21st Century'. He then went on to have solo exhibitions in Mumbai, India, and in Dhaka, Bangaladesh, and graduated with a BA in Fine Art from Kathmandu's Tribhuvan University in 2003, before finally moving to the UK, where he qualified with an MA in Fine Art at Wimbledon Art College in London, the city in which he is now based.
Govinda's early paintings were mainly figurative, as he began to copy the forms of Hindu deities from the Newar pantheon, and landscapes inspired by the temples, terraced foothills, and snow-capped Himalayan peaks that dominate the now congested environment of the Kathmandu Valley. It was from these otherworldly regions with their ever-changing cloudscapes that Govinda first began to study and depict cloud formations as primal symbols of fertility, creativity and heaven. Some of his abstract cloud compositions appear in this exhibition, which emotively evoke the brooding and stormy violence of water in all its oceanic, vaporous and precipitating forms. These creative elements also appear in his three-dimensional installation, where amorphous clouds hover above the floating geological structure of Mount Meru, with suspended rocks hanging above a nest-like circle of branches and stones. I have little personal interest or admiration for much that passes as contemporary abstract or conceptual art, or the repetitive and impoverished vocabulary that tends to support its ephemeral value within an elitist circle of celebrity and financial excess. But I can honestly say that I have been enthralled by the raw energy, luminous color intensity, and the sensitive chaos created by a multi-dimensional mass of fragmented and globular textures that explode across the square surface in many of Govinda Sah's more recent paintings.
On a larger scale these compositions remind me of the colorful psychedelic imagery we used to create in the 60's by dripping enamel paints onto a sheet of wet watercolor paper on a rapidly spinning turntable, which was then abruptly stopped. And on a smaller scale they remind me of the extremely intricate 'Synaethesia' paintings of my mentor, John F.B. Miles (1944-97), or the spectacular apocalyptical paintings and mezzotints of the English visionary painter, John Martin (1789-1854).But unlike the hallucinogenic fragmentation and prismatic sheens of enamel paint on wet paper, or the minute figurative details that bestow historical or biblical narratives to the colossal edifices and vast perspectives of John Martin’s realms of pandemonium and paradise, the celestial realms of Govinda's art possess their own unique luminosity. Some of his paintings emerge from a background of newsprint; others emanate from around an empty hole, or cascade down like monsoon cloudbursts above a churning ocean, while others fit together like spaced tiles to form a mosaic-like composition. Govinda used the Sanskrit title "Shristi-Chakra", meaning the "Glorious Wheel of Creation", for his recent 2012 show in Delhi, which utilizes the mandala principal of depicting a tantric geometric diagram or 'device' (yantra) as the divine source of emanation at the centre, around which a centrifugal mass of nebulous and fractal-like energies swirl. Govinda equates these energies with our ever-increasing philosophical and scientific understanding of both the microcosm and macrocosm: of the non-locality of pure consciousness that 'lights-up' and informs the reductive neural networks of our brains, and the formless existence of dark matter and dark energy that permeates and informs the unfathomable intelligence of the visible universe we perceive.
Thus the apt title that Govinda Sah has chosen for his forthcoming exhibition at Tibet House is "The Universe Within", and although his works have been shown in more than twenty countries, this will be his first solo exhibition in the USA. Govinda recognizes that his artistic roots first germinated from the unique fusion of Hindu and Buddhist Tantric Traditions that are found in Nepal, but his now blossoming personal style of painting increasingly encompasses the visionary realms of intergalactic fields, where stars are born amidst the nebulous ghosts of supernovae in divine acts of cosmic creation. Where life is conceived in the mist, and not in the crystal.Robert Beer. Oxford, England. January 2013.
Govinda Sah's art expresses the unity of mind and body, as well as space and time. There is a long tradition in Eastern thought of mystics reporting their experience of a mind-body unity during meditation. Govinda was raised in the Hindu tradition in which philosophers distinguish between the unreal, ephemeral physical world of the senses and a perfect, infinite realm of pure mind-a kind of cosmic spirit (the Brahma)-which humans know by thought alone. Born in 1974 in Nepal, Govinda spent his early years practicing art in his homeland, in India, and in Bangladesh. He developed a vocabulary of simple forms built up from veils of color to express the unity of mind and body. Atage 26 he made a cycle tour of Nepal, experiencing the mountains and clouds. On this journey of discovery, the artist also met local residents and promoted his vision of a "21st century of art and peace." After earning a BA at the Fine Art College in Kathmandu, he moved to London, where he completed an MA at the Wimbleton College of Art in 2008.
Govinda's second theme-the unity of space and time-comes from the Western tradition of modern science, specifically from Albert Einstein's adoption of the concept "space-time" in 1907. Einstein is the father of modern cosmology but his thought is rooted in the ancient pantheist tradition stretching back to the Pythagoreans, for whom nature is a unity that embodies mathematics: "All things that are known have number" (Philolaus, On Nature, 5th century B.C.). Reflecting topics in modern science, Govinda does paintings such as "Birth of a Star," which incorporates discoveries made using the Hubble Space Telescope. With a background is in both East and West, Govinda synthesize these traditions in paintings such as "Mandala and Eclipse" and in his recent work-transparent layers of black inset with black beads, suggesting both the mystics "cloud of unknowing" (Pseudo-Dionysius, 500 A.D.) and a field of stars. In the end, Govinda Sah is an artist for today's global culture, a true citizen of the cosmos.Lynn Gamwell