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Stouffville artist embraces vibrant colour and textured materiality

Whitchurch-Stouffville artist Vicky Talwar draws upon her personal experience as a Hindu-Canadian to produce painting, mixed media and installation artwork. She addresses themes of cultural hybridity, displacement, movement and memory. 

Latcham Art Centre is hosting Talwar’s new show Inward Identities until March 19. The opening, which was originally scheduled for January 7, will now be held on March 18, from 7 to 9 p.m.. 

In her paintings, she expresses the contrasts of her identity by embracing both vibrant colour and textured materiality. She uses reoccurring spiritual motifs including intertwining flower garlands, mala beads, sacred threads and salt to create a sense of presence and intention while playful brushstrokes and an indistinctly atmospheric background produces a feeling of in-betweenness and transcendency. 

Similarly, her installation artwork operates under the same theme, using salt as an artistic medium. Inspired by ritualistic qualities of the mandala, she uses salt as a purifying material to accentuate both spirituality and displacement in her particular cultural experiences. Experienceyorkregion.com caught up with Talwar to find out more about the exhibition.

By Wayne Doyle

experienceyorkregion.com: How does living in Stouffville influence/affect your work? Is there any connection between the rural environment and say, your representation of flowers in your work? 

Vicky Talwar: The natural world inspires me. Living in Stouffville has significantly influenced my work as the walking trails, and scenic views are inspiring. I incorporate elements from the natural world and spiritual symbols such as flower garlands, mala beads, and sacred threads are fused in a way to demonstrate my own sense of double consciousness and cultural disruption. 

EYR: What size are the works and does the final size of the work have any direct influence over the content?

VT: I intentionally created large-scale paintings and installations to allow my viewers and myself to interact with the work. The scale of the mandala installations is human-scaled and, therefore, a relatable scale. 

EYR: You’ve exhibited in some sophisticated markets – New York and Los Angeles among them. I’m wondering if you’ve noticed a difference in the reaction to your work depending on where you show it? 

VT: I had noticed a difference in reaction to my work when I exhibited in a few art galleries in Los Angeles. For example, I participated in a few group exhibitions at Las Laguna Gallery, a contemporary and fine art gallery located in Laguna Beach, California. The gallery overlooks the ocean. The sounds of water have a substantial effect on me and influence when painting. I often experiment and take risks with new painting mediums (high gloss mediums, fluid acrylic techniques like pouring and dripping) that suggest water surfaces and remind me how change can be good. I have received many comments from my viewers at the gallery about how my work reminds them of water surfaces. Also, I found the visitors intrigued by the spiritual processes in my studio practice that have affected my art-making. These reactions are quite different than the comments I received when I had art exhibitions in Toronto. For example, The main focus of my practice is to see how the application of specific colours evokes emotions and memories. I try to embody the experiences felt when working with colour into the artwork, and through this process, I have realized I am connecting with my soul. I have found that my use of colour is engaging and can create a metaphor for my hybrid cultural identity. This engagement with colour is relatable to others in my Hindu and Canadian community through reflection on viewers’ reactions.

EYR: What is your definition of artistic success?

VT: To me, artistic success is about being authentic to oneself. Expressing my identities and lived experiences authentically encourages me to pursue my artistic career. I strive to self-heal through my artmaking to inspire my viewers to consider delving into understandings of the self. It is a bonus to have sales and exhibits in contemporary art galleries, but it is essential to see my work evolve without losing my authentic style. Secondly, I believe focusing on service is essential as an artist. I often ask myself – How can I use my paintings and installations to inspire my viewers? I endeavor to create an environment through authenticity and empowerment that will support and provide a healing experience for the public.

Inward Identities, the work of Vicky Talwar will be at the Latcham Art Centre, Stouffville until March 19. To see more, please click here.

Main photo: Whitchurch-Stouffville artist Vicky Talwar.

First row: Paintings from Talwar’s exhibit Inward Identities.

Bottom row: Mandela colouring pages that you can download. Check out www.latchamartcentre.ca/exhibitions

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Wayne Doyle is the manager of marketing and communications for the York Region Arts Council. A former journalist, Wayne is always looking for great stories to share with readers of experienceyorkregion.com. If you’ve got a York Region story to tell, contact Wayne: wayne@yorkregionartscouncil.com

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