Nawal Khatiwada is one of the leading artists of the Bhutanese-Australian community. Last year he won People’s Choice moving art award from Nepean Arts and Design Centre. He talks to Bhutan News Network (BNN) about his art, future career and et. al.
BNN: How do you define art?
Nawal: Art is the expression of human emotion. I believe that human life experience is a profound source of creation and an artwork is like a station on the journey of life. The artist creates his/her creation from his/her life experience; learning about something or experiencing something, becomes important to express through art and therefore the events of life and experience are the source of expression.
BNN: How do you categorise your works?
Nawal: I have a background in a variety of styles however, in drawing, I prefer to use an expressive manner using expressive lines. In painting, I create works in an impressionist style. Semi-abstract forms can be seen in my works. Sometimes the artwork style depends on the themes, or what needs to be expressed. That then influences the result of what needs to be visualized. I personally love abstract, semi abstract, and impressionism especially for landscapes work. I prefer to create expressive and romantic works.
BNN: What inspired to painting?
Nawal: I have mentioned that for me art is the visualization of life experiences. The experiences in my life, the sometimes-despondent situations including pessimistic as well as optimistic occurrences in my past, have inspired me to develop my art.
As a child, I drew, painted and was fascinated by the world of storytelling, history and beauty that art offers. As I grew older and my life situations changed, I realized the powerful tool that art could play in communicating ideas, knowledge and emotion. Art has always been the way I express my world experiences. It is my tool to challenge, to reflect and to record the realities of our past and present histories for the upcoming generation, because life is changing and it is changing fast.
BNN: How much time do you spend on painting every week?
Nawal: Being a student I spend about 20 to 25 hours weekly but other than this or in my vacation time, I prefer to spend the whole time on my artworks.
BNN: How did you financially manage in camps to pursue painting enthusiasm?
Nawal: I painted commissioned artworks and then utilized that income for art supplies. At the completion of high school, I practiced and tutored art, both in Nepal and now in Australia with the Association of Bhutanese in Australia-Sydney. In Nepal I tutored both paying Nepalese students as well as youth in my own Bhutanese refugee communities.
BNN: Has there been any difference since coming to Australia?
Nawal: Yes, it has been different because of many factors. One of the factors is that artistic culture is very different in Australia compared to Nepal.
BNN: Will painting be your profession? Or is this just a hobby?
Nawal: For me artwork/painting isn’t just a hobby. To create artwork or painting is a pivotal part of my life, helping me to make sense of life’s journey, and as an expression of my experiences.
Since I was a child, it has been my ambition to become a recognized professional artist. However, in the culture and community I come from, contemporary art is not a ‘worthy’ career. Nevertheless I have worked toward this ambition in both Nepal and since arriving in Australia. I know that it takes time to be recognized. To be involved in the different art prize competitions and attend exhibitions is key in building up public and social relationships. I think social relationships are necessary for developing an artistic career in Australia.
BNN: Have you made efforts to commercialize your works?
Nawal: I have not made efforts to commercialize my artworks in Australia but I will consider this in future. For instance, selling prints of my artworks, or in the form of post cards or greeting cards.
BNN: How you see the prospect of selling your paintings in future?
Nawal: As study takes up most of my time at the moment, I am happy to focus on invitations to group exhibitions. I am currently working on the development of my first solo exhibition. In addition to my personal work, I am starting to take on commissions as I build my profile. I always have some body of work in process.
BNN: What kinds of painting are hardest to make?
Nawal: I feel that semi abstract or abstract painting is challenging because it need an extra vision or a special vision. There are two processes to create abstract works and I generally love both of them. On the one hand I love to play with mediums on canvas or paper without a set idea of where it will go. Later I can see something form and bring this out in suggestive forms or lines in the painting or drawing. On the other hand, I sometimes work in the opposite direction, starting with an idea and using abstract techniques to express my vision. In my experience, this second option is a more challenging process.
BNN: Do you love packing up your other job and becoming a full time painter? Why?
Nawal: I love to create artworks and I am aiming to be a full time painter because art is my passion, but it is challenging in Australia. I am not a professional at the moment and I am in the initial steps of building my profile.
BNN: How do you fee if you are to stop painting?
Nawal:If I were to stop painting than it could lead me to a challenge with my emotional feelings. I would find myself without a way to express my thoughts and feelings, and therefore my freedom