Kalidas Shrestha – Dedicated Nepali Artist
Nepalese sculptor, artist and social activist, Kalidas Shrestha, has done much to bring art to the ordinary people of Nepal, while at the same time encouraging local artists to express themselves. In 1960, he began organizing art exhibitions to achieve his goals of promoting Nepalese art and artists, establishing an art gallery at his private home, and selling his paintings and displaying artworks for the general public to view. Possibly Kalidas Shrestha’s single biggest achievement in Nepal’s art world was to initiate the establishment of the first art college in Nepal. Upon Shrestha’s request, King Mahendra agreed and the Nepal Fine Arts College was established in 1967, thriving under his direction for the first years of its existence.
Born in Kathmandu on 23 May 1923, Kalidas Shrestha showed a talent for art at a very young age, and his personal history is tightly wound with the history and development of art in Nepal. As a student at Nepal’s first school, the Durbar High School, Shrestha shared his talent by teaching others. After obtaining the highest level of education offered in Nepal at the time, he traveled to Bombay (now Mumbai) and completed his Graduate Diploma in Arts (GDA) at the Sir Jamsetjee Jeejebhoy School of Art in 1957.
As the first campus chief of the Nepal Fine Arts College, Kalidas Shrestha invested his time, energy and money in making the venture a success. He also promoted art at other educational institutions in Nepal, seeking out the talent of his fellow Nepali artists. Shrestha is also known for promoting Nepali art beyond the borders of his home country, and has traveled to Germany, Sweden, and Missouri in the United States at the invitation of various art councils and authorities. Among the awards received by this well-respected Nepali artists are the prestigious Mahendra Pragya Puraskar Award of Nepal and the Saraswati Samman Award of India. He has also been the recipient of a number of national and international medals.
When asked if he has any regrets regarding his career choice, Kalidas Shrestha reportedly replied that he is very satisfied with his achievements and is proud of being a Nepali artist. He has in the past pointed out that “to excel in art, one needs dedication and discipline”. Certainly Kalidas Shrestha has both these qualities in abundance.