The Friends of South Asia and ROM Curator Dr. Deepali Dewan hosted the internationally renowned Singh Twins this past weekend in Toronto. Amrit and Rabindra K.D. Kaur Singh, known as ‘The Singh Twins’ were in town especially to unveil their piece Sikhs in Canada, a painting that commemorates over 100 years of Sikh Canadian history and community.
The painting was commissioned by the ROM in 2006, completed in 2010, and now resides in the ROM’s permanent collection. In their ‘past-modern’ style (a play on the term ‘post-modern’), The Singh Twins combine techniques of traditional Indian painting and modern content. Read from top to bottom, the painting moves from the scenic West coast of Canada to the urban metropolis of Toronto, and from early migrants to contemporary Canadian society.
The painting was first unveiled to ROM visitors and patrons in the Lower Rotunda on Thursday May 17. Its unveiling was celebrated by an artist talk in the Signy & Cléophée Eaton Theatre, delivered by The Singh Twins on Saturday May 19 to Friends of South Asia and other community members. The Twins discussed their approaches to Sikhs in Canada as well as their other works, and provided their audience with contextual guides to help uncover and read the incredible detail visible in the painting. Audience members had the opportunity to participate in a lively and enriching Q & A session, facilitated by Dr. Dewan, in which The Singh Twins entertained questions in response to their discussion and the painting itself.
The artist talk was followed by an exclusive VIP reception in the Lower Rotunda for Friends of South Asia members and invited guests. The Singh Twins mingled with patrons of the ROM and its South Asian Collection over a delicious spread of chana, naan, pakora, and Indian sweets, courtesy of the ROM’s c5 Restaurant. Guests further discussed the incredible work of The Singh Twins, and even took photos in front of the ROM’s newly acquired painting.
Sikhs in Canada was on view in the ROM’s Lower Rotunda until Tuesday May 22. It has now returned to the Museum’s storage collections until Fall, 2012, at which point it will be hung in the Sir Christopher Ondaatje South Asian Gallery. During its short tenure over the long weekend, the painting and its artists garnered significant attention from mainstream media, including a feature article in The Globe & Mail. The Singh Twins have contributed a milestone piece to the ROM’s South Asian Collection, in the form of a painting that celebrates Sikh and South Asian diaspora, community, and history.