Kanwal Dhaliwal

Kanwal Dhaliwal (b.1960 India) has drawn, sculpted and painted many themes from the life around him, whether he was in the country he grew up in or in the country he learned to call home. To start with the Deorhee (doorway) interested him, an outdoor indoor space, a connection of the house to the outside world in a village-house of Punjab. During the day, this was the women’s room. His faces, done like landscapes, are more apparent on males. The land and their lives are really intertwined and this is reflected on their faces. Alongside bewildering landscapes, roomscapes, and lawyers’ things in sheds, Dhaliwal’s peasants too sit in their allocated spaces.

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His next series The Dilemma and The Roots show uprooted trees, torn roots, trees which look full and flourishing but lack roots, with big gaps between them and the earth. Black and white dramas, trees hidden by black light and shade are a part of Dhaliwal’s vision. He has used thinner, finer lines for trees and leaves and the background remains hidden. The leaves are silver and rest on gold but the cost is the loss of roots, for they are missing. He looks again at his earlier landscapes of golden wheat and mustard fields, siestas and fluttering doves. The theme further develops into new series The Life Cycle and Life Goes On, where the uprooted trees appear to have started regrowing in the new found environment.

In his series of personality portraits he is painting the lives of extraordinary individuals who dared to challenge the set dogmas. There are writers, social activists, reformers, freedom-fighters and scholars in his selection.

Dhaliwal is a painter who is very definite about his work. There are histories, feelings in his lines and any symbol is used deliberately. This is not a painter who says, “It is up to you to find the meaning.” He says this is the story I am telling you. Happiness, he says is saying and showing “what I wanted to, exactly the way I wanted to”.

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