Revealing vignettes of Sikh heritage founded in its distinctive socio-cultural and visual identity and manifesting a lived faith pictorially, a series of works of art by artist Harshdeep Kaur will go on view from November 30, Guru Nanak Jayanti. The works celebrate cultural nuances of Sikhism and natural landscapes
The solo exhibition titled ‘Engaging With The Ultimate’ runs from November 30-December 8 at Delhi-based Arpana Art Gallery. Presented by Dhoomimal Gallery and curated by Dr Seema Bawa, the soloo presents a varied mix of canvases showcasing landscapes & figurative works. Her work speaks of the social and natural landscapes that surround our physical and imaginative selves while evoking an intrinsic emotive charm.
The series that sets her work apart is based on Sikh men and women; embedded as it is in her own lived experience, on her observation of the lives of the Sikh people, their festivals and rituals.
“Sikh people and rituals inspire me to create new dimension in Sikh art. The Khalsas wearing kesari turbans; engaged in meditation, working in the fields or as horse riding soldiers, skilled in warfare have left a lasting impression on my art and me,” explains Harshdeep.
“Each of my works from portraits, figures & landscapes have one thing in common which is the peaceful nature of it. Looking around at what’s happening in the world and how simple things are getting complicated, I wanted my works to speak for themselves. Since childhood, I observed my parents follow a very specific routine of path, Shabad & belief in God and that made me connect with my own self very quickly. That experience was so strong and peaceful that I wanted to show it in my works. This exhibition celebrates the life of Sikh people, their festivals, rituals, the Khalsa’s in meditation and also skilled in warfare,” the artist told IANSlife.
There are also two contemplative works, Prasad and Prayer that represent the Sikh peoples’ communitarian and egalitarian world through ritual practice of service and meditative silence revealed through the Word, shabd and nama; both leading towards realization of the Ultimate Reality, explains the gallery.
“Another trait marker of the Sikhs is their appearance, especially the turban, especially the Dumala or domala, a turban wound with lesser number of folds, worn by devout members of both genders. Her paintings, big and small format, depict these Dumala wearers not only as devout and committed Sikhs but also bring out their individual and communitarian identity. A slightly whimsical work shows a dumala wearing lady sporting dark glasses and western wear, a mark of the diaspora’s struggle to adapt to changing milieu,” said the gallery.
Her landscapes explore silent spaces marked by the absence of humans, where it is the trees, birds, lakes and waters that suggest a narrative of peace and calm. Then there are the short poesies painted into a bunch of flowers in bloom or a pair of trees conversing in shadows of dusk, in reflections of forms in still waters.
The natural world has been magnified in her landscape paintings while it has been abstracted in her ink on paper works that use Chinese ink whose adaptability she discovered during a visit to Hong Kong. The play and experimentation with monochromatic tonalities of ink, is seen in her forms, creating lots of depth in figures and landscape both. The visceral feel of the thick handmade paper and canvas surface, splattered with of ink and water layers her work with light and shade that for her is intrinsic to experiencing form.