Artist showcases unique ink illustrations of Sikh art

Amandeep Singh with one of his paintings on display at his ‘Controlled Chaos’ exhibition at the Nairobi National Museum. [PHOTO: ANGELA MAINA/STANDARD]

NAIROBI: He gets pleasure from playing with words. For a man whose slogan is ‘a man deep... in thought,’ derived from his name, Amandeep Singh brings out his unique ink illustrations.

The UK based founder of Inkquisitve Illustration, Singh makes use of colours to depict subjects with ink, his favourite art medium. And last weekend, he treated the audience to a set of his creations in an exhibition dubbed ‘Controlled Chaos’, at Ecology Gallery in the Nairobi National Museum.

Singh’s recent exhibitions are ‘Imperfection is Beauty’ and ‘Souled Out’, evidently words play a major role in his artistry.

“The exhibition was inspired by the need to express that we do not need perfection in our lives. I feel we need a sense of controlled chaos, that things can be messy in a controlled manner. I found out that the more we control our lives, the more it becomes messy. It is about not going over the top nor avoiding chaos in all measures. There has to be a little mess. In my art, the chaos will be in the bright colours across the room,” he says.

‘Controlled Chaos’ features 40 pieces that Amandeep spent seven months creating that contain works inspired by Sikh culture and ink illustration.


The London-based artist has employed ink illustration and Sikh art in this collection that he showcased on his first tour in Kenya. Sikh art, influenced by the Sikh religion in Punjab, portrayed subjects that are distinctive to this religion.

In ‘King Without a Crown’, Amandeep illustrated a guru, one seen in the Sikh culture as a person’s counselor or spiritual guide.

Most of his pieces have images of men with long beard, wrapping turbans around their heads. In Sikh culture, the turbans represent a crown while gurus are highly regarded.

“Sikh has a lot of heritage and story. It talks about battles and the progression of human beings. There were many stories I heard around this culture at a young age from my parents and they stuck in my mind. It is through those stories that piqued my curiosity to explore this in my art,” he says.

The artist based his illustrations on the ten gurus since the history of Sikh culture. He also explored the Sikh temple and his dreams about the religion.

“Although I am a Sikhi artist, I am an international artist in a broader view. I do not only create what openly speaks to my faith alone. I have produced a lot of Christian, Islamic, Hindu cultures, aborigine cultures and animal prints. It is very important for my work to speak from a diverse view,” he says.

The artist marks five years this week since the invention of this genre that has been acclaimed by global personalities such as music artists Jhene Aiko, J Cole, Missy Elliott, The Weekend, LL Cool J, American actor Kel Mitchell, and Bob Marley’s son Rohan Marley with some of them in possession of his artworks. His previous works have largely been of hip-hop artistes.

“I believe one of my strongest identity is to dare to be different. I wanted to do something different. A person can only progress when he is out of his comfort zone. My works are different and is not what one expects it to be, for instance I can use unusual colour for the eyes in my works to engage the audience,” he says.

The exhibition runs at the museum for a month.