Through the lens of a 62 year - old artist

Through the lens of a 62 year – old artist

Unveiling the artistic odyssey of Sukbir Bishwa

Exhibiting a deep passion for art and galleries since the primary days, Sukbir Bishwa sought solace in the artistic world and resigned from his 23 years tenure as an accountant with the revenue and customs department.

Hailing from Kuchin village in Tendruk gewog under Samtse dzongkhag, the 62 year-old found inspiration in his uncle’s drawings, igniting his own passion for the artistic world.

“Aside from my uncle, those days my school got a separate period for drawing classes atleast once a week unlike today where I don’t see such dedicated practices,” Sukhbir reminiscences his early days, adding that he is grateful for such opportunity where he was able to learn more for what he is passionate about.

Sukbir, during primary school days then received guidance from Indian art teachers, and the government even supplied drawing materials to the school. For instance, at the age of 13, he even earned merit certificates while competing in India.  Similarly, during his college days he was even asked to do the paintings for various programs.

Even after securing employment at the age of 25, Sukbir persisted in painting during the morning hours and after office hours though his collection was not extensive. However, he managed to sell his paintings giving him the momentum to push for his passion for arts.

Sukbir shared that at one time he even exhibited his art. After a successful exhibition, people came to know him more and then he was able to sell his paintings, especially to the hotel industry and tourism sector during 90s where he got more motivated to move forward.

He even did door to door marketing especially in the hotels where many kept it for decoration purposes and even his friends used to buy his paintings.

In the year 2009, Sukbir retired as an accountant to dedicate himself as a full time painter. Until 2011 he did the work from home and then he decided to open a small art gallery near Jungshi paper factory in Thimphu.

“After establishing my art gallery near the Jungshi paper factory, people started to drop at my gallery and the demand for my paintings increased,” Sukbir reminisces fondly.

Then in 2013, Sukbir relocated his art gallery to the startup center in Changzamtog, strategically positioned near the weaving center which furthered the advantages for his art gallery.

“The business was very good as a big scale business and many tourist and guides started to come at my gallery where my sales spiked,” Sukbir said.

However, Sukbir shared that he has all kinds of paintings in his art gallery with young minded employees who were trained painters from India, Bangladesh, etc. However, with the Covid pandemic, he had to close his art gallery for almost three years.

After the pandemic, Sukbir shifted his art gallery in November 2022 in the town near the clock tower and named it ARTyanttra gallery. With reduced sales, he now operates with an invaluable assistance from his son as a full time painter and wife as a manager.

Retrieving on the full time job as a painter, Sukbir expressed that the decision hinges on an individual perspective as he believes that pursuing one’s passion rests entirely in one’s own hand.

“When a person loves what they do, market fluctuations cannot deter their determination and the success is intertwined with one’s commitment to continuous exploration and growth,” Sukbir said, adding that in the beginning everyone will struggle.

For instance, even Sukbir was not able to survive with his passion and he did all kinds of works including accountancy, sales person, and radio productions to support his passion and family. “Currently, I am doing well and I am surviving,” Sukbir grinned nonchalantly.

Sukbir believes that with such passion and profession, it is important to break the eyes of the clients and at times should be ready to accept ‘No’ from the clients. “Moreover, such passion should be persistent, in that, not to be shy on asking to keep the paintings as the market has grown a lot and to focus on market exploration.”

“I see beginners struggling to sell in the market. However, I encourage them to learn and keep going, know the trends of the market, and have some alternative jobs in the beginning. Then there will be a time where you will be able to survive with your paintings,” Sukbir said.

Meanwhile, Sukbir looks forward to his son on following his footsteps to continue with the ARTyanttra gallery. As for himself, he dreams of exploring the entire country and do paintings in the near future.

By Sherab Dorji, Thimphu