2019 marks the 550th anniversary of Guru Nanak’s Prakash Purab and to celebrate, the Sikh Research Institute has commissioned artists to create works exploring the legacy of Guru Nanak. As part of this project, I have completed four works:
“Perspectives” – 16″x20″ Acrylic on Plywood
Inspired by two of Guru Nanak’s Shabads, “Jin ke chole rattre piaare, kant tina kai paas” in Raag Tilang, on Ang 721, and “Baras ghanaa meraa man bheenaa” in Raag Malaar on Ang 1254. This piece depicts a set of individuals in a rainstorm and aims to portray their reactions to the rainwater. Most people reject the rain, seek cover, and are wanting. However, there are those few, who accept the rainwater and rejoice in its ability to drench the lover with love. The colours are purposefully minimal in this piece to show how seemingly ordinary things can, in fact, be extraordinary. Also, the faces remain anonymous to prevent judgment on the perspectives presented.
The following three pieces are presented as a triptych. The order of the paintings is not designed to show a necessary progress but a contrast between states of mind in a manner that is relatable. I would argue that each state is of equal importance. The value of each state is interpreted by the viewer and is as dependent on the state of the individual as much as the state of the message in the work.
“The Departed” – 16″x20″ Acrylic on Plywood
Inspired by the shabad by Guru Nanak in Raag Sri Raag on Ang 23, “Sajan Mere Rangule Jai Sute Jeeran”. The painting explores the concept of having grasped a false “palla”. It is a portrayal of a misconception. That which we claim as dear shall pass. Like the kasumbh flower depicted, the colours and composition are designed to be immediately pleasing but upon further examination, their true state is revealed. The kasumbh flowers are crumbling, the deer is leaving to wander, the crane, too, is fleeing, and the hands are left grasping the departed.
“Oblivious” – 16″x20″ Acrylic on Plywood
Inspired by the shabad by Guru Nanak in Raag Suhi on Ang 728, “Ham nahee change buraa nahi koi”. This painting represents the act of searching for something, perhaps in the dark, among a thick and endless forest and being oblivious to the fact that “the something” is in fact containing the entire search. The Divinity we are in search of with such hopelessness is within us and we are all contained within It.
Working Title: “Saajan Stars” – 16″x20″ Acrylic on Plywood
Inspired by the shabad by Guru Nanak in Raag Suhi on Ang 764, “Ham Ghar Saajan Aaye”. This final piece of the triptych shows a state of awareness of Divinity both within and outside of oneself, presented as “friends who have come home” in the form of stars. Stars are suns within themselves, even though they appear as miniscule and trivial among the sky. Similarly, the treasures of having ones friends in your home, or discovering the Divinity residing so close to oneself as to be within, are also unfathomable.