Created in the immediate aftermath of the Royal Massacre of 2001, this phantasmagorical series by Shashi Bikram Shah jarringly captures a time when violence percolated throughout Nepali society; from the civil war unfolding in the rural hinterlands, to the murder of a supposed God in the capital’s Narayanhiti Palace.
Each piece is made on newspaper clippings and obituaries published following the death of the then Nepali royal family. An austere paint application is combined with motifs from Hindu mythology to simultaneously address mourning, memory, and history.
Shah is known for his works that often allude to apocalyptic themes. In this series, King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah embodies Vishnu, as well the Kali Yuga, the current age of suffering and demise, of which he is ironically the victim. The work weaves together Vaishnava iconography, commentaries from the Arthashastra, and Shah’s own relationship with the monarchs. What is seen here are palimpsestic layers of history—both personal and political—unravelling.
With a career spanning over five decades, Shashi Bikram Shah is regarded as one of Nepal’s preeminent contemporary and modern artists. His art draws from Hindu philosophy and Nepali history, while balancing the dialectics between suffering and salvation in human existence.