Haris Sheikh’s Canvases A Must See
Mississauga: Haris Sheikh, a Canadian of Pakistan origin visual artist’s original art work (Oil paintings) will be showcased at at the Promenade Gallery (943B Lakeshore Road East, Mississauga from Sept. 20 onward. Theme of Sheikh’s oil paintings “Cross Roads” is about one’s immigration journey across seven oceans. It focuses on cultural shock and loss of identity, which finally leads towards solitude and Sufism. Sheikh, a graduate of M.A Fine Arts from Punjab University College of Arts and Design, also studied architecture at National College of Arts, in Lahore, Pakistan. He moved to Canada 12 years ago, where he continued he pursued his passion for the arts, studying Film and TV Production and 3-D Animation and Post Production at Toronto Film School. He is Associate producer (Punjabi language) of award winning documentary “Fundamental Freedoms”, about Canadian Charter of Rights. Sheikh’s debut documentary, “The Blastphemy”, about controversial cartoons of Prophet Muhammad and Muslim anger was screened at ISNA Film Festival Chicago 2011.
He says, “The purpose of art is it gives you a hint and a feeling. It should not be clear because different people have different levels. All the big art has an area which people ask: What does it mean? Today you see something. Tomorrow you will see something different. A century from now, people will see something different.”
One of his most important paintings is on Komagata Maru, the ship carrying South Asian immigrants that was turned by a racist regime a century ago. “Use of dynamic three dimensional perspective against two dimensional Komagata Maru’s ship in a border frame visually provokes juxtaposition, tension and refers to the resistance and clash between host (Canada at that time) and undesirable visitors (South Asian’s Immigrants on ship). Use of ancient style arches and color scheme depicts common South Asian’s architectural and cultural heritage and evokes symbols of solitude and spiritual awakening to challenge the status quo (Discriminating immigration laws against South Asians in 1914’s Canada).
The Great Britain eight wing’s Union jack like mushrooming dragons provokes the most powerful and fearful empire of 19th and early 20th century”. The KMG ship and its unfortunate passengers were travelling from India to Dominion of Canada in the domain of this flag (Both loyal subjects of Great Britain), however the South Asians were undesirables because of their race and ethnicity. On the middle left, tall abstract modern skyscrapers building in copper tone symbolizes Vancouver. At that middle junction, KMG struck with a gigantic mass of red purple ocean of death, which was the fate of poor South Asian’s passengers; first by refusing to enter in Canada, shortage of drinking water and food, and later shot dead in bulk and detained by British army at Calcutta’s harbor (India).”
Sheikh adds, “Further, I am working on a series of paintings about “KMG- Komagatu Maru”, towards its 100th anniversary in 2014. I am experimenting in the visual untold story of unfortunate passengers as a metaphor of a continuous journey of resistance against race/color discrimination (even contemporary), and also as an underling symbol of success of victims (particularly Punjabi/South Asian’s immigrants in BC, Canada) in the today’s Canadian’s model of multiculturalism.”
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