Sangeeta Thapa: A Pioneer In Showcasing Nepali Art Works

As great renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Art is the queen of all sciences communicating knowledge to all the generations of the world.”
Working by this same spirit, Siddhartha Art Gallery, as one of the pioneering art galleries of the country, has been providing a promotional platform for contemporary art works, helping artists to reach the art lovers and the buyers of art works at home and abroad.
Babarmahal, the historic palace where Siddhartha Art Gallery is located, is in itself a work of art and fine architecture.
Over the past three decades, Siddhartha Art Gallery has showcased more than 500 art exhibitions, providing a venue to artists, musicians and literary writers from all backgrounds to nurture their art and market their works in the process.
But this art gallery may never have come into existence if it were not for Sangeeta Thapa and her pioneering pursuit to introduce Nepal to the rest of the world through contemporary arts.
Thapa, director and curator of the gallery, credits her father for sparking her interest in art early in life. Her father, Himalaya Shumsher Rana, is the first governor of Nepal Rastra Bank. “My father was my first inspiration who planted the seeds of my imagination at an early age. Though he was not an artist, he was an ardent lover and collector of art works and the source of my inspiration,” she said.
After her father left the Nepal Rastra Bank and joined the United Nations, Thapa and her three siblings got a chance to visit various countries accompanying their father on his international assignments. This exposed her to different cultures of different parts of the world and further filled her with curiosity about art’s development, promotion and preservation.
But her true foray into the art came after she returned to Nepal in 1983. She studied Anthropology and Mass Communication in George Mason University, Virginia, USA studied art and design at West Sussex College, UK. She is married to Sunil Bahadur Thapa who served as Minister for Commerce and Supplies. Before getting married, she had been outside the country for 22 years. She was now settled in a new political family as the daughter-in-law of Surya Bahadur Thapa. Though belonging to a political family, it was not politics that was to become her career. There was some other field where she was going to make her mark.
Actually, the political domain of her new family worried her. “I feared I would lose my identity. So, I felt I needed to do something different to standout. I began searching for something where I could establish myself,” Thapa said.
A turning point came in Thapa’s life when one day she happened to visit an exhibition by painter Shashikala Tiwari titled ‘In the Footsteps of Peace’ on Buddha’s lifestyle. “I was enthralled with Tiwari’s works put on exhibition and contacted her. I even bought one of her paintings,” she recalled.
This stimulated her to establish an art gallery, a place for musicians, poets, artists, writers and creative personalities of all sorts to come and exhibit their talents and get national and international acknowledgement for their works. So, in partnership with the source of her inspiration, artist Sashikala Tiwari, Thapa opened the Siddhartha Art Gallery in 1987. She is the director and curator of the gallery.
Initially, the gallery was established at Kantipath, not too far away from the Palpasa Gallery, Srijana Art Gallery, J. Art Gallery and Lalit Kala Campus. “We were hoping to make Kantipath an art hub but the place got too busy and became too noisy for an art gallery. So, we later shifted to Babar Mahal,” Thapa said.