By Usha Wagle Gautam
Acclaimed Nepali art historian Prof. Dr Dina Bangdel passed away on July 25. Prof. Bangdel was the Director of Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University-Qatar for five years.
She was undergoing surgery for sinusitis in US and infections led to meningitis, a family source said. She was the only daughter of acclaimed Nepali artist Lain Singh Bangdel. She leaves behind two sons.
Artist Asmina Ranjit said her demise is a loss to the entire Nepali nation and the country’s art.
Prof. Bandel was a historian of South Asian and Himalayan art with interests in gender and identity issues in South Asian contemporary art and film. Her interests in the early modern period focused on the ritual and ideological functions of Buddhist art in South Asia, including theories of ritual performance and politics of identity.
Her research was focused on the art and ritual traditions of Newar Buddhism in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal and the development of Tantric Buddhist iconography of the Himalayan regions, principally Nepal and Tibet. Her research and teaching include contemporary South Asian art, and her current publication Contemporary Nepali Art: Narratives of Modernity and Visuality drew on social history, post-colonial and feminist theory.
She had also curated several exhibitions, including Circle of Bliss: Buddhist Meditational Art (2003, finalist for the Alfred Barr Award for best exhibition catalogue) at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Pilgrimage and Faith: Buddhism, Christianity and Islam (2010) at the Rubin Museum, New York, Prakriti Speaks: Contemporary Nepali Art (2011) in Mumbai.
Dr Bangdel taught courses on the art and architecture of South Asia, visual cultures of Tibet and Nepal, contemporary arts of South Asia, and South Asian film.
Dr Dina Bangdel was the daughter of Lain Singh Bangdel, a prominent Nepali artist, but her identity as an art historian was her own. Beginning with her undergraduate at Bryn Mawr College in the US, she went on to do her PhD from Ohio State University, and director of Art History Program at Virginia Commonwealth University, Qatar. She has authored several books on Nepali art.
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