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Exploring South Asian Art

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Ram Singh Urveti, Woodpecker and the Ironsmith, 2011, acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of Sneha Ganguly

KAMLOOPS ART GALLERY, KAMLOOPS BC – To March 31, 2018 

SURREY ART GALLERY, SURREY BC – To March 25, 2018 

By Michael Turner

The Vancouver Art Gallery’s 2016 Bharti Kher exhibition provided a rare opportunity for local audiences
to experience a substantial body of work by a contemporary South Asian
artist. Although the exhibition did not include Kher’s iconic bindi-covered fibreglass elephant, it did include a figurative one: the proverbial elephant-in-the-room that asked, “Why are there not more exhibitions by artists of South Asian ancestry in a province where 8% of its population is South Asian-Canadian?” Thankfully the Kamloops Art Gallery (KAG) and the Surrey Art Gallery (SAG) were listening.

Billed as “the first of its kind in Western Canada to present a diverse range of the rich and varied histories of the photographic media from the Indian subcontinent,” the Kamloops Art Gallery show features the work of two dozen artists, journalists and colonial functionaries who turned their camera not only on the region (now the world’s most populous), but in some instances on a Canada that many of South Asian descent call home. Historic photographers include Raja Deen Deyal and Linneaus Tripe, while contemporaries include the Raqs Media Collective and Pamela Singh.

Taking a different approach, the Surrey Art Gallery is highlighting India’s indigenous diversity, with a travelling exhibition of paintings by two dozen artists from four major artistic traditions: the Gond and Warli communities of Central India, the Mithila region of Bihar, and the narrative scroll painters of West Bengal. Rather than display these works chronologically or by region, the curators have organized them thematically: “Myth and Cosmology,” “Nature – Real and Imagined,” “Village Life,” and “Contemporary Explorations”.

kag.bc.ca

surrey.ca/artgallery

Image: Pamela Singh, Treasure Map 012, 2015, painted archival digital print Courtesy of the Artist and sepia EYE