Artist | Jatinder Singh Durhailay
London based Painter & Musician, Jatinder Singh Durhailay explores Indian Sikh culture through his art. We spoke to him to understand his journey and works
Tell me about how your creative journey started. Did you have creative influences growing up? How did UAL influence your learning? Did you receive any other training?
I have always been fond of painting and drawing since a child. I used to really love the illustrations for video games, and would spend hours copying the works of Japanese video game illustrators, looking back on it now this was a fond memory.
I decided to become an artist towards the end of my university degree in Digital Media Design and Graphic Communication, at the University of Arts London. The degree helped me in many other useful areas, however I feel a degree in Arts is not necessary especially with how much money a student has to pay for a degree.
What has been the source of inspiration for you ( people, travel, places, cultures etc)? How has your cross cultural identity influenced what you do now?
I really love people and watching people. I am interested in Indian and Sikh culture. Being born in London, I have always felt myself crawling back to my Indian roots, the city can be a very grey and lonely place at times, that’s why I am not afraid of using colour in my recent painting.
Can you talk about how you marry your illustrations with religion and cultural identity. Do you work on commisioned/ commercial works? if yes, How do you find that balance creatively. . How is it to work with clients as an artist? What role does digital media play in your works?
A lot of early art was influenced by religion, and in the Sikh history there has only been a brief golden period where Sikh art was thriving under the leadership of Maharajah Ranjit Singh. With the fall of Punjab the art fell significantly. I am interested in re-introducing the Sikh image to the contemporary art world. I usually paint what I feel, but am always open to collaborations recently I created a painting for the opening of Soho House Mumbai.
Could you comment about 'being a creative soul' and does travel facilitate your ideas in any way? How connected are you to the Sikh community in the UK?
I feel like that I am always traveling and discovering. Living mostly in London, the city I was born in, I feel close to the Sikh Community that I grew up around, as my parents would take me every weekend as a child visiting the local Gurdwara. I still remain as a participant with my local community, feeling the urge to help with charitable I feel it is important to stay connected to a community and the spirit of sharing is encouraged highly in Sikh principal. I realise that being a part of a community has taught me to be more compassionate, and to be considerate in the act of sharing.
Could you comment on the current landscape of independent artists. Do you think globally this is a good time to take an independent route? Where does India fit on the map according to you?
I like that Indian people are seeing a value in Art again, at one moment I felt like the only Sikh artist for a while, but there seems to be more and more whom I enjoy discovering and keeping in touch with. People have different views, goals and pathways in the creative or artistic industry as it is so broad, however I find that it is not as diverse as it could be, with a heavy emphasis on western ideology and preference, all other works get deemed exotic. India has the ability to be an artistic powerhouse, if it makes moves to support more artists and institutions. Pakistan is doing an amazing job with a number of amazing artists at promoting art, with the Lahore biennale etc.
Your favourite place in India? How do you stay connected to India? Any artists you follow from here? Do you travel to India often?
It is difficult to choose a favourite place in India, as there are so many wonderful places. I frequently travel to India to gain inspiration, the nature in India is breath-taking. I am connected to India through religion, culture, arts and music. The works of N.S.Harsha are among the favourites of my artists. I try and make it out to visit India every year as I really find the space and time to paint freely from here.