The creative founder of the conceptual brand, 1469, centered on all things Punjabi, entrepreneur and culture conservationist Harinder Singh is now establishing a connection with art. His installation was exhibited at the recently-held Gaj Mahotsav in Delhi. In Chandigarh with filmmaker Imtiaz Ali for the film Laila Majnu, he shared how his artwork is created with recycled components, evoking a sense of sustainability. An advocate for preserving the culture of Punjab, the title of his elephant installation was Gabru, based on the “Punjabi lad” who is hardworking and spirited.
The minimalist installation was created in metal, wood and natural fibres — while the metal structure provided a strong internal skeleton, the wooden chips picked from waste appeared as a rich, textured elephant skin. Fused bulbs were used as eyes and re-cycled tyre tubes were his shoes. “The straight tail reflects Masterji ka Danda in rural Punjab and the calligraphy block held by the trunk highlights the concept of sikhna (to learn) in Sikhism,” shares Singh.
Whether it’s making tees, putting phulkari on the world map or creating his interpretation of a naughty, little elephant, all roles involve creativity. “As long as my creation prompts the onlookers to think, I feel I have achieved my purpose,” says Singh. During the five chapters of Mela Phulkari, an annual concept-based exhibition held at the India Habitat Centre in Delhi — he has exhibited art installations themed on Punjab, discussed concerns such as unemployment, farmer suicides, female feticide, soil degradation and alcohol and drug addiction.
This year, Singh showcased his work on the journey of Phulkari at the Mandi House metro station. “Punjab is my passion. Its art, history and language inspired me to create work revolving around the chardikala spirit (in high spirits) of the Punjabi hinterland,” says Singh, who is now preparing for Mela Phulkari VI, to be held in February 2019, on the theme “#jaagopanjab”. “We will have a rooster as a metaphor for culture, social and developmental awakening,” says Singh.