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Jagdeep Raina: Archiving memory and migration

By: Mike Baker
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The quiet surface of paper and soft fabrics echoes the humble archives Jagdeep Raina draws from - the history and documentation of pioneering Kashmiri and Punjabi Sikh communities in the South Asian diaspora. 

Born and raised in Guelph, Ontario, artist Jagdeep Raina has a research based studio practice. For Jagdeep, the history of pioneering Kashmiri and Punjabi Sikh communities “live in overlooked materials: books, oral history manuscripts, VHS tapes, records and cassettes tucked away in cardboard boxes, yellow photographs in peeling albums stuffed in cupboards and shelves, in basements, on online databases and in the research of scholars who have dedicated their lives to recording a history in the margins.”

Jagdeep uses a variety of materials in his work including embroidery, natural dyes, fabric, yarn, water soluble pastels, watercolours, graphite powder, charcoal, gesso, and pencils to render imagery with loose washes and agitated mark making. These mark making tools and soft textiles acts as mediators – unifying all the threads of his work, without hierarchy to examine how marginalized diasporic communities—in particular the Kashmiri and Punjabi Sikh Community—can perpetrate further marginalization against their own people including those of different castes, nationalities, economic status, sexuality or gender, and more widely against people of other races and religions.

Jagdeep describes how “notions of the diaspora and the homogeneity of community can be torn apart by external issues affecting Kashmiri and Punjabi Sikhs, but can also be broken by these internal prejudices within. Thus, the lived and observational experiences of South Asian communities have led me to examine the notion of societal transformation.” Using drawing as a tool and taking personal and historical photographs as social documents, Jagdeep wants to continue to examine and interrogate themes of psychological violence, internal colonization, and forms of resistance.

Jagdeep also works with collage and writing, incorporating text and transposing phrases from photographic images and newspapers onto his drawings and textiles. In addition to using his studio to create works on paper and textiles, Jagdeep conceives it as a space to cultivate a mock archive-library that reflects the desire to store, collect, and rediscover historical knowledge and memory.

Jagdeep Raina completed his BFA from the University of Western Ontario and he received his MFA in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2016. Jagdeep has participated in artist residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the Fine Arts Work Center, and the Camden Arts Centre/Slade School of Fine Art. He has exhibited nationally and internationally including Europe, the United States as well as the 11th Shanghai Biennale.  Currently Jagdeep’s work can be viewed at the Art Gallery of Guelph in his solo exhibition titled Chase, curated by Shauna McCabe. The exhibition runs from May 23-Aug 18, 2019.

 

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