ARTIST TALK & DEMO
AT ASIAN ART MUSEUM
SAN FRANCISCO, CA
March 24 -25, 2017
Rupy had the honor to share the unique Sikh painting style from the Sikh Kingdoms during the 19th century as well as contemporary Gurmukhi calligraphy at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, CA. The Artist demo and talk were part of the programming in support of the Sikh Art Exhibition "Saints and Kings" running at the museum. It was a moment of pride to bring Sikh heritage to life through art practice at a major museum.
In a world where limitless languages are spoken, every day a language somewhere is at risk of being lost forever. I believe, the survival of a language not only depends on its use in every day conversation but also in appreciating the beauty and construction of the script attached to it.
In my own effort to preserve the script that truly speaks my heart's language, I began the Wordsmith collection. In this series of works, I explore the geometric boundaries of words constructed in the Gurmukhi script. My goal was to push the script as far as it could go while preserving the meaning of each word.
ਆਪੇ ਪਟੀ ਕਲਮ ਆਪਿ ਉਪਰਿ ਲੇਖੁ ਭਿ ਤੂੰ ॥
"You yourself are the paper, the pen,[the ink] and the writing." I am a mere wordsmith.
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Mool Mantar: A puzzle to follow
When the message is clear and simple, why do we overcomplicate things? In this age of simplification of the user experience, my experience as I engage with Gurbani remains complicated. This piece speaks to that confusion and the visual bending of words when I don't understand what they mean. While we get use to knowing and finding answers to everything in this day and age, for me, Gurbani's beauty is in not giving me the answers but asking me the right questions.
Waheguru: This way, that way
Waheguru. No matter which way you see it, no matter which way you look, it's there. Forever. Unchanged. Unbent. Unaffected. Waheguru.
I could write Gurbani a million times over and over but I still could not know the significance of Waheguru. In this shabad, a devotee is saying something similar where no matter where and how and what they do, they could not estimate the value of the true Master. Whether they give up worldly luxuries, live for millions of years, ignore the cycle of day and night, and never sleep (not even in their dreams), they still could not know enough to pinpoint the value of the true Master. All the devotee can ask for is a continuing yearning and love for the Lord. And that's all I can ask for, a continuing love for Gurbani.
Fareeda dust to dust
"Fareed, do not slander the dust; nothing is as great as dust. When we are alive, it is under our feet and when we are dead it is above us." These words by the poet Fareed remind me that no matter how much we fight over land, homes, temples, or countries, at the end of it all we become dust but the dust we fight over remains unchanged (and victorious).
At times, Gurbani has been a puzzle for me so I wrote it to look like one here. The puzzle is our own to know, to guess, to struggle with, and to solve.
How far can we go to blotch the truth?
How far can we go to hide the truth?
How far can we go to distract ourselves from the truth?
The truth remains. At the beginning, through time, here and now. Forever and forever true.
Why go looking outside for what dwells within us? A flower has its fragrance within.
Ocean in a drop
I believe every ocean began with a drop.
ਆਪੇ ਪਟੀ ਕਲਮ ਆਪਿ ਉਪਰਿ ਲੇਖੁ ਭਿ ਤੂੰ ॥ "You yourself are the paper, the pen,[the ink] and the writing." I am a mere wordsmith.