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Upcoming Delhi Art Show Exploring Sikh Heritage, Culture

A series of works of art by the artist Harshdeep Kaur, Guru Nanak Jayanti, will be on view from 30 November, unveiling vignettes of Sikh heritage founded in its distinctive socio-cultural and visual identity and manifesting vivid faith pictorially. The works celebrate the cultural nuances of Sikhism and the natural landscape.
The solo exhibition entitled ‘Engaging With The Ultimate’ will take place from November 30 to December 8 at the Delhi-based Arpana Art Gallery. Presented by the Dhoomimal Gallery and curated by Dr Seema Bawa, the solo presents a varied mix of canvases depicting landscapes and figurative works. Her work speaks of the social and natural landscapes that surround our physical and imaginative self, evoking an intricate emotional charm.
The series that separates her work is based on Sikh men and women; embodied as it is in her own lived experience, in her observation of the Sikh people’s lives, their festivals and rituals.
“Sikh people and rituals inspire me to create a new dimension of Sikh art. Khalsas wearing kesari turbans; engaged in meditation, working in the fields or as horse-riding soldiers, trained in war, have left a lasting impression on my art and me,” explains Harshdeep.
“Each of my works in portraits, figures and landscapes has one thing in common which is the peaceful nature of it. Looking around at what’s going on in the world and how simple things are getting complicated, I wanted my work to be self-explanatory. Since childhood, I’ve seen my parents follow a very specific path, Shabad & faith in God, and that made me connect very quickly with my own self. That experience was so powerful and so peaceful that I wanted to show it in my work.”
“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, which reflect the communitarian and egalitarian world of the Sikh people through the ceremonial practise of service and the meditative silence revealed through the Word, Shabd and Nama, both leading to the realisation of the Ultimate Truth, the gallery explains.
“Another characteristic marker of the Sikhs is their presence, particularly the turban, especially the Dumala or Domala, a turban wound with less folds worn by devout members of both sexes. Her paintings, large and small in scale, portray these Dumala wearers not only as devoted and dedicated Sikhs, but also as an expression of their person and communal identity. A somewhat whimsical work shows a dumala wearing a woman wearing dark glasses and western wear, a symbol of the diaspora’s struggle to adjust to a changing world,” the gallery said.
Its landscapes explore quiet spaces marked by the absence of human beings, where trees, birds, lakes and waters represent a narrative of peace and calm. And there are short poems painted in a bunch of flowers in bloom, or a pair of trees in the shades of night, in the reflections of forms in still waters.
The natural environment has been magnified in her landscape paintings, while her ink has been abstracted from paper works that use Chinese ink, the adaptability of which she discovered during her visit to Hong Kong. The play and experimenting with monochromatic tonalities of ink is seen in its shapes, providing a great deal of depth in both figures and landscapes. The tactile feel of the dense handmade paper and canvas board, splattered with ink and water layers, she works with light and shade that, for her is inherent to the experience of shape.

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