The Artist Baba is originally from Tamil Nadu, in South India. He lived with his adopted son, Sonu, and worked at the Surya Studios in the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. Sonu followed in his father’s footsteps, and worked as an apprentice after school.

Baba the Sign Painter of Kathmandu
Baba and his smile

Baba calls himself ‘the Elephant of Artists’ and other artists who work with him at the studio agree. When you pick up artwork from Baba, an admiring often crowd gathers.

Baba used to paint the large canvas signboards that hung outside the movie palaces of South Asia through the early ‘80’s. These colorful hand-painted advertisements have all disappeared, having been replaced with generic computer-generated posters.

His detail and wonderful color-sense has made him a favorite with Danger Dog supporters.

Baba was one of 10 artists chosen to paint portraits of President Obama in November, 2008, after the historic election. Nepali artists have a tradition of political portraiture. They all called him ‘Barack Hussein Obama’, and were cautiously optimistic that he would be a good president and help the world. Baba’s portraits of Obama were the first I saw, and after seeing his work, I knew the Obama Art project would succeed.

In 2012, Baba left Kathmandu for his native Tamil Nadu.  His fabulous artwork and beautiful smile are greatly missed.