Born in Amritsar India, Canadian artist Kanwar Singh Dhillon has been channeling art for as long as he can remember. He is influenced by a host of past masters such as Sobha Singh, Amrit Sher-Gil, Caravaggio and J.W Waterhouse to name but a few.
Growing up in Toronto Canada, Kanwar explored several paths that would allow him to work as a professional artist including animation and book illustration. However, it wasn’t until he started to take an interest in Sikh history that his art took a definitive turn to magnificence.
Kanwar Singh says that in his work he seeks to combines the grace and beauty of Sobha Singh’s portraits with the documentary style of past Sikh history painters such as Devender Singh. But it actually goes beyond those works and is quite unique in the power, depth, inspiration and beauty of his portrayals of consummate moments in the Sikh legacy. The artist states that “Painting is a way to stop a moment in time and share it with generations to come. You look at a painting today as Sikhs years from now will but due to our shared heritage you feel the same thing and in that way you achieve a connection beyond time. That connection is the joy which moves me to create.”
His painting of the birth of the Khalsa, rendered from a point of view behind Guru Maharaj Ji and Mata Sahib Kaur Ji, looking out towards the assembled sangat, as well as his peerless painting of Guru Gobind Singh Ji Maharaj bowing to the Siri Guru Granth Sahib as he gives us our Guru for all time, are both deeply moving.
But it is his recent painting, which depicts Guru Arjan Dev Ji dictating the Adi Granth to Bhai Gur Das Ji, which has moved me more deeply than any of its predecessors. Guru Ji sits on the Perkarma in a state of deep repose. The expression on his face is one of joy far beyond the physical plane. The pristine Darbar Sahib shines with the glow of the morning light, radiant in the sarovar behind him whilst Bhai Gur Das records the Shabd “Guru Dev Mata, Gur Dev Pita” on a scroll resting before him. The moment is transcendent. The trees, the birds and the sky itself are all enthralled and suspended in time as the sound of the Guru’s Shabd fills the holy space. The magnificence, intimacy and deep sacredness of the moment is captured perfectly, far beyond words to express.
In this amazing and inspired masterwork, Kanwar Singh has channeled an image that transcends the limitations of time and space, opens our hearts and provides us with deep inspiration.