I’m an Indian origin, Dubai born and raised, Canadian (immigrant) artist.
My relationship with art and poetic thinking has been long and enduring. My brother was one of those kids who had the most natural flare for drawing and hoarded comic books. He is now an amazing cartoonist out there. My mother loved literature, black and white Bollywood movies, poetry, tragedy and romance and injected in us curiosity and minds for storytelling and drama. Until my father left when I was 14, I tagged along to his construction sites, traced his architectural drawings and flipped through colour swatches on our drives home from school.
I spent my summers in India with my humanitarian grandparents surrounded by Indian folkart, textiles, carpets, artifacts and ornaments and the rich and infinite pool of creativity that Indian culture oozes of.
As a Dubai kid in a Muslim home I was exposed Islamic architecture, calligraphy, henna, folklore, Persian carpets and a fascination with the moon.
I loved to draw but I hated the rules.
In the midst of my child-of-divorce rebellious teenage angst and my early struggles with anxiety, I discovered Jackson Pollock and fell in love with lawless self-expression that gave personal relief, power and an individual voice through creation. I fell in love with black. Bold, powerful, slick and timeless black which continues to be the primary force in my work today. With mark-making. A way to create a voice that was altogether a total and at the same time rejection of all the cultural boxes I’d grown up struggling to fit into.
I did my degree in studio art at the University of Toronto and explored automatic drawing and eventually fell into a rhythm of drawing for personal freedom. Which is still very much where I am today. Art gives me a place to be curious. To tell stories. To share how I see things and make sense of the world. To self-accept. Relief from the ‘supposed to’s.
I went on to do my MA in sociology and while living in London and became fascinated with art in the public realm. Art that was accessible and magical in the random act of encounter. Larger than life and impactful. I wrote my dissertation on art in public spaces and returned to Dubai to make my own contribution to bringing street art to the city I called home through my little company, The Domino. In 2010 I received the Sheikha Manal Young Artist Award which gave me a bit of a confidence boost while I lacked self belief in actually being an artist myself. It’s a daunting thing. But it wasn’t until 2015 when I walked out of a toxic and abusive relationship that I took this journey seriously. Because being an artist takes courage and risk. And at that point I had nothing left to lose.
I’ve been lucky to paint walls in 10 countries. To represent for my 3 homes: the UAE, India and Canada. To represent for female artists of colour. To engage in outreach projects that support challenged communities. I believe in art’s ability to help heal and move the world forward.
My style is my own. I can pick it apart and attribute it to all the visual information I’ve been surrounded by through my life. Comic books, textiles, mythology, calligraphy, graffiti, and so on. But drawing for me is a free-flowing process and I don’t consciously inject any one influence into my work. I’m interested in how we think and invent. Symbolism and semiotics. Mythology and folklore. Romanticism, existentialism. And ultimately our innate human urge to create, depict and express.