Meet the Indian artist who is bringing back childhood memories of the Sikh community through his comics

There is something to childhood memories. They keep coming back to us to remind us who we are and to keep us in touch with our real selves. Delhi based artist Dashmeet Singh also did something similar. He revisited those memories and that’s what his art is all about.
Published on Feb 05, 2020 09:12 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By, New Delhi

There is something to childhood memories. They keep coming back to us to remind us who we are and to keep us in touch with our real selves. Delhi based artist Dashmeet Singh also did something similar. He revisited those memories and that’s what his art is all about.

Whether it is your nani doing chumpy for you (rubbing oil onto your long hair and massaging it) or playing jhootei maiyya (A traditional Punjabi childhood rhyme, where the parents or grandparents sing to the kids while they act like a human swing carrying the children), they are some of the fondest memories you have of growing up. Recreating these very remembrances through comics on Instagram is Delhi based artist, Dashmeet Singh.

One would immediately equate Dashmeet with Dalbir Singh, who in the year 2007 started the now cult SikhPark series, which he had begun to create awareness about Sikhs in the US, who were being targeted post the 9/11 terrorist attacks. They were being targeted because of the turbans they wore, which were also worn by members of the Taliban. However, his comics would also put a humorous lens on everyday situations taking place in Punjabi households, from butter chicken to the thathas (cloth used to set and style the beard).

We spoke with Dashmeet, asking him about what made him start the comics, the response from the Sikh community and whether SikhPark inspired him or not.

How did you come up with the idea of this particular comic?

I started sketching and painting in the 11th standard after seeing Sharan Art (Sharandeep Singh) on Facebook. I was amazed at how beautifully one can put their ideas and thoughts into paintings. I had opted for Medical Science and in my free time, I used to watch YouTube tutorials to learn how to sketch and paint. I would also ask my mother to teach me a few basics as she was into fine art.

I ended up losing my focus in studies and my grades were affected, after which I joined an Engineering college named Guru Tegh Bahadur Institute of Technology (GTBIT) instead of pursuing my career in Medical Sciences.

Meanwhile, I got an opportunity to work with the NGO Akal Network, and made a few digital paintings for their Free Langar Sewa, they named it Stall On Wheels. The idea was to distribute the ‘langar of knowledge’ through the medium of art.

As time passed by, I created a lot of paintings, majorly on Sikh narratives.

I always wanted to portray the events of my daily life through my artwork, but because I was more into paintings, it was not possible to create stuff on a daily basis so I started making quick rough sketches and making portraits of random people travelling in the metro to improve and manage my work speed.

Later I got to know about the work of Alicia Souza on Instagram and was mesmerised by her work. She talks about her life through daily comics on Instagram. I wanted to do the same for myself, but because I am an introvert I was afraid to share the details of my daily life with others. Then I came up with the idea to create comics which are based on daily life, but not specific only to me, to which everyone can relate. So the character I portray in my comics is myself.

I also realised that there is no Sikh, in my knowledge, who documents their life in the form of comics. Now I am keener on documenting my life instances and soon will be coming up with more comics so that when someone sees it they can relate to it on first sight and say - “Oh this is me!”

Did SikhPark inspire you?

I have seen his work in my initial days, but no, SikhPark didn’t inspire me.

Is there anyone else like this in India?

Gurnain Kaur (instagram - @thequotepotpourri) is the one I know who does illustrations based on her life, which portrays Sikh characters. Also @desipun1, who I recently connected with via Instagram.

What other topics do you touch upon via your art?

I mostly do portraits on imagination and life, apart from illustrations on love, inclusiveness, self-love, Sikh values, oneness etc.

What kind of response have you got from the Sikh community?

I have received a lot of love and appreciation from the Sikh community and other communities as well. It makes me happy when someone shares my work and along with that says it is ‘relatable’ to them. I have received messages telling me that they were going through a bad day and then they saw the comics, it made their day and made them laugh, as they imagined themselves at the same moment.

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