A canvas, a steady hand and patience is what takes a promising artist, Manzil Lama in Phuentsholing, to painstakingly craft a surreal portrait of Punakha dzong from a billion points (dots) of ink pens.

Just three years into art, the 32-year-old has developed a knack for realistic pointillism in 3D effect. Pointillism is dotted art.

He said mistakes are not tolerated in art. “Once a point is marked with a water-resistant ink pen, there is no erasing.”

Manzil Lama is from Pekhasey village in Samphelling, Chukha. He has a Bachelors in Computer Application from Bangalore, India.

He said he sketched for leisure initially and tried painting in oil and acrylic but claims it was realistic pointillism that fascinated him the most.

“Pointillism is comparatively new in Bhutan,” he said, adding he wanted to give a new dimension to art in the country.

He claimed that as he researched and practised on pointillism, he wanted to mix it with a realism that gave birth to realistic pointillism. “My goal is to put the 3D effect in images I work on.”

He said the journey of art was not easy as he juggles passion and profession. “I did not have any prior professional art courses and training and relied mostly on books and YouTube videos.”

Manzil Lama said someone helped him with the basics and after that he had to learn on his own.

In January 2018, Manzil Lama completed Punakha dzong art, a visual treat for visitors at his shop.

A popular painter in Thimphu, Sukhbir Bishwa said Manzil Lama’s works are interesting. “He is so passionate about what he does.”

Although pointillism is not new in a global context no one has tried it in Bhutan, according to Sukhbir Biswa. “He has the capacity to make it in the international arena.”

The Thimphu-based painter also said that Manzil Lama could keep his works at his gallery in Thimphu.

It’s not only painters who appreciate Manzil’s work.

Several students in Phuentsholing drop by his store to view his art. Some are keen to learn.

Sirjana Rai, a class 10 graduate said she once requested the artist to teach her and her friends. “But he said it is not yet time,” she said. “He said he wants to participate in an exhibition.”

At his IT shop, Manzil Lama tends to his customers. As the customers leave, he puts on his gloves, holds the ink pen, and hits the canvas. He is currently working on a Buddha painting.

He said he has not thought about going commercial yet although he has sold several sketches in the last three years. “I am keen on refining my skills first,” he said.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing