SINGH, Jarnail

Author Tags: Illustration, Punjabi

Jarnail Singh of Surrey is an artist, illustrator, designer, photographer, and art journalist who immigrated to Canada in 2000.

Born in Punjab, India, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Punjab University, Chandigarh. He was mentored by his father Kirpal Singh, an outstanding Sikh artist, from whom he inherited not only the painting talent but also the appreciation of historical icons and their role in the history of Sikhism. He continues the tradition of portraying Sikh Gurus and historical events. As well he has done much to capture the images of Punjabi folklore disappearing fast.

Jarnail Singh has exhibited his art at numerous national and international venues; his works are included in Central Sikh Museum, the Golden Temple, Amritsar, and several other important collections. The city of Surrey honored Jarnail Singh with the First Civic Treasures Award; he is among the twelve persons from art, literature and culture honored for their lifetime contributions to the city’s art scene.

“Painting for me is a process of infinite happiness and joy,” says Singh. “Many a time people ask me, what do you paint, and I reply, I paint everything, people, portraits, landscapes, anything that touches me, inspires me.”

His first book in B.C. is a collaboration with Ajmer Rode whose full-length play Komagata Maru was digitized and published on-line by Simon Fraser University. In conjunction with Singh, Rode then published A Journey with the Endless Eye: Stories of the Komagata Maru Incident (Ekstasis Editions 2015).

The volume was one of several books that appeared to mark the one hundredth anniversary of the controversial event of May 2014 when the Komagata Maru, a steamship carrying 376 Indian passengers, mostly Sikhs, was denied moorage in Vancouver's harbour on May 23rd. The resulting standoff proved tragic when the ship was eventually forced to return to India. Many of the passengers were ex-military men who had made sacrifices for the British empire in wars and expected no problem in immigrating from one British colony to the other. This voyage was a deliberate testing of a discriminatory law which forbade immigration by sea unless would-be immigrants sailed directly from India. Denied food and water in Vancouver harbour, the would-be Candians were mostly forced back to the Indian port of Budge Budge Ghat, near Calcutta, where British-India police fired on them, killing several and injuring many more.


The Journey With Endless Eye: Stories of the Komagata Maru incident (Ekstasis 2014), illustrated by Jarnail Singh Hardcover
978-1-77171-077-0 / $46.95. Papercover 978-1-77171-078-7 / $34.95

[BCBW 2015]

Endless Eye goes to Ottawa
Press Release (2016)

In conjunction with the apology given in Parlament by Prime Minister Trudeau on May 18th, 2016, Ekstasis Editions has published the definitive volume on the Komagata Maru incident, the foundation of the art exhibition “A Journey with the Endless Eye.” Paintings
from the Ekstasis volume will be on permanent display at Carleton University.

The permanent exhibition of ten Komagata Maru paintings by eminent Indo-Canadian painter Jarnail Singh will be opened by Carleton University President Dr. Roseann Runte at 4 pm on 18 May 2016, the day the Honorable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offers his Komagata Maru apology in the House of Commons. In addition, the book A Journey With the Endless Eye: Stories of the Komagata Maru Incident will be highlighted at the opening of the exhibition at the University; the book includes stories by Ajmer Rode and paintings by Jarnail Singh, including the 10 paintings exhibited. The exhibition will continue to remind us that our eyes must remain open endlessly to watch and oppose injustice of any kind, here or anywhere.

We laud Carleton University and Barj Dhahan, a founding donor and board member of Canada India Centre for Excellence at Carleton, for rendering this exemplary service to our community and country. We hope this unique initiative will inspire others to support arts and give due importance to creative works while commemorating historical events. Several dignitaries are expected to attend the opening. All living in or around Ottawa, indeed
anywhere, are welcome to attend the event.

A Journey With the Endless Eye is published by Richard Olafson of Ekstasis Editions, Victoria. The Komagata Maru steamship with 376 Indian passengers arrived in Vancouver on 23 May 1914. Many of the passengers were ex-military men who had made sacrifices for the British empire in wars and expected no problem in immigrating from one British colony to another. But to their dismay Canadian Immigration imprisoned them in their own ship, refusing them water and food and forcing them back in humiliation after two months.

Jarnail Singh is an artist, illustrator, designer, photographer, and art journalist. He resides in Surrey, British Columbia since immigrating to Canada in 2000, and has become the most popular and sought-after artist of Punjabi origin in Canada.

Ajmer Rode has published books of poetry, drama, prose and translation in Punjabi and English. Ajmer is considered founder of Canadian Punjabi drama and his full length play Komagata Maru was recently digitized and published on-line by Canada’s Simon Fraser University.