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BRAMPTON: Sikh artist Kulwant Singh is a rare breed among the Indo-Canadian community in Brampton.
A painter with a distinct style of his own, Singh has done rather unique portraits of Punjabis heroes – past and present – to familiarize the diaspora generation with this their rich past.
He has just finished his first solo exhibition `Colours of Life’ at Beaux-Arts Brampton, presenting his 30-odd works of recent years – including unique portrayal of Sikh heroes such as Maharaja Duleep Singh, revolutionary Kartar Singh Sarabha, scholar Bhai Veer Singh, and even the ever-green actor Dharmendra.
“I want to introduce creativity in the Punjabi community here. I am happy that this exhibition has got a huge response. Among the many top people who visited my exhibit were Mayor Linda Jaffrey, Peel Police Board chairman Amrik Singh Ahluwalia and many others. The mayor spent about 45 minutes here as she inspected all the works minutely and appreciated them’’ says the Sikh artist who came to Canada from Punjab more than a decade ago.
Singh, who holds an MA in drawing and painting from Panjab University and another MA in History of Art from Guru Nanak Dev University, says, “Doing portrait is my forte. I love it. Unlike many other artists, I don’t do my work by imagination. I want to capture the originality of the person by sitting with them. I spend hours studying the models for my work.’’
He says a minute study of his models before he starts the portraits brings “an entirely new dimension to my compositions. Look how much of the portrait work in the US is being done by this method. Leaders such as Bill Clinton and George Bush have sat for their portraits so that the artists can highlight the minutest nuances of their compositions. I love that.’’
Singh says his dream is to do portraits of top Canadian leaders – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier Kathleen Wynne and even non-politicians. “I want sittings with people like our Sikh defence minister Harjeet Sajjan so that I can do their real life-like portraits.’’
One of the best portraits, he says, he has done in recent years is that of Lieutenant Brian Murphy who saved many Sikh lives during a racist attack at the OakCreek Sikh Temple in Wisconsin in August 2012.
“I did a portrait of Brian Murphy and presented it to him at an event in his honour in May 2014. He was very impressed. My family travelled all the way to Wisconsin to thank him for his heroic act,’’ says Singh who lives in Brampton with his wife and two children.
The Sikh artist says the the next project on his agenda is the portraits of great Sikh warriors. “I will do paintings of the young sons of Guru Gobind Singh, Maharaja Ranjit Singh in a unique pose and his generals such as Hari Singh Nalwa.’’
Even in the age of technology, Singh says photographs can’t match real portraits. “A painting is unique, it is original…the rest are all its copies.’’
The Brampton artist hasn’t restricted himself to doing only paintings of Punjabi heroes. “I love doing cowboys and I get complimented for my cowboy work.’’
He says he is already planning an exhibit on rodeo. “I am sure it will create real drama,’’ Singh signs off.