If you take a stroll around the Punjabi Market, you will see a mural beautifully depicting rich Punjabi culture. The mural was created by a multidisciplinary artist from Vancouver named Guntaj Deep Singh, who was born and raised in Punjab.
5X Press had the chance to speak with Guntaj, who let us in on his creative process and inspirations for the mural.
Guntaj says that with the mural, he wanted to reimagine a moment in rural Punjab and recreate it.
“I knew I wanted traditional Punjabi elements in the mural to depict the beauty of a bygone time in existence,” he said.
If you take a closer look at the mural, you’ll see copper utensils, clay-houses, golden crops and a golden sunset, which come together to create a classic setting that resembles harvest time in Punjab.
“There is something quintessential about the characters too, they are very traditional. Despite the fact that they all are individually soaked in joy, they are also connected with the thread of love. It's almost utopian in that sense,” he said.
What makes this mural even more special is that it transcends limits, beliefs, and differences, and is relatable to everyone.
“I wanted the mural to be simply happy in a ubiquitous way, to speak to everyone despite of it's screaming 'Punjabism',” Guntaj said.
“We are all familiar with the pleasure found in the little things, the romance of the past, the warmth of love, the beauty of life -- and in that sense, we can all relate to it.”
When asked about his art and inspirations, Guntaj said his interactions with strangers, poetry he reads, movies he’s watched, and his own experiences and connection he’s felt with others are what influences his creations.
He likes sparking conversations around culture, parallelism & the human condition through his artwork, and has a knack for fusing art, romance, and poetry.
“That’s how I nourish my imagination and water it to create, using the pursuit of art as a means to capture the pursuit of life,” he said.
Guntaj is a South Asian Queer artist, who says his journey has been full of ups and downs.
“But mostly, I feel blessed that this city has given me not just strength and experience as a human, but opportunity as an artist,” he said.
“I have been welcomed in the art community with open arms. It has been truly dreamy and I cannot wait to make more art and continue this beautiful journey.”
Guntaj said that when designing the mural one of the most important things for him was to keep it rich in culture and nostalgia.
“I am still in a trance-like state of contentment, it feels amazing. I am extremely grateful to the PMRC and VMF for this opportunity,” he said.
When asked what it means to him to have the opportunity to leave a bit of his legacy at the Punjabi Market, Guntaj said it means everything and more.
“I can't wait to create more public art in the future,” he said.
In his eyes, the purest form of art emerges from the very essence of human existence, with emotions as the proof that we are conscious and living. This is constantly reflected in his art.
“Punjab is my motherland, [but] after I first moved to Vancouver in 2017, I lived on Main and 49th. Who knew I would paint a mural in the market? It's kind of surreal. Public art is much more accessible, it leads to more conversations, more life.”
About the author: Manisha is a writer and reporter with previous radio and television experience, who is passionate about connecting audiences to the stories and voices that matter to them most. Check her out on Instagram: @exclusivelymanisha