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Bharat Rai

Reimagine: Himalayan Art Now

March 15–October 6, 2024


Photo by Pranab Joshi





Bharat Rai (he/him)

b. 1990, Bung, Nepal; lives and works in Kathmandu, Nepal

Bharat Rai is a contemporary Nepalese artist based in Kathmandu who seeks to inquire into people’s inner lives through symbolic representations of conflicts they undergo. He uses painting, sculpture, photography, and installations to create metaphors of human experiences through objects and encounters from his daily life. The artist juxtaposes the mundane and the fantastical to create satirical, humorous, and often poignant depictions of the contradictions within oneself. In his 2021 solo exhibition, Whistle Blowers, at Windhorse Gallery in Kathmandu, he traced his childhood growing up in Solukhumbu, Nepal. His keen sense of observation translated into his role as the curator for Windhorse Gallery from 2018 to 2022. He has been supervising the programs of the Himalayan Art Initiative since its inception in 2018. He is also responsible for curating the exhibitions at Takpa Gallery in Kathmandu under the guidance of artist Ang Tsherin Sherpa. He completed his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Kathmandu University in 2016 and his Master of Fine Arts from Tribhuvan University in 2018.



Bharat Rai; Whispering Whistle; 2023; acrylic on canvas; courtesy of the artist

The term “mule” often carries a connotation of low value, especially when compared to horses, which are viewed as noble. Here Bharat Rai presents the mule as a metaphor for the hard-working classes who are regularly marginalized and neglected in Nepalese society. He reimagines this narrative by visualizing the mule as a god standing on top of a lotus pedestal. The artist was inspired by the dynamic image and story of the Protector Begtse Chen in the Rubin Museum’s collection. He painted a likeness of the sculpture of Begtse at the tip of the central donkey’s nose.



Protector Begtse Chen; Mongolia; late 18th–early 19th century; gilt copper alloy with pigments; Rubin Museum of Art; C2005.12.3 (HAR 65414)

This object from the Rubin Museum’s collection is presented in the Reimagine exhibition in dialogue with Whispering Whistle, inviting new ways of encountering traditional Himalayan art.

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