Trini artists capture spirit of India


This article by Papia Lahiri appeared in The Asian Age.

On May 30, 1845, a ship Fate al Razack, full of Indian indentured immigrants entered the Nelson Island, off the shore of Trinidad, an island in the Caribbean Sea. The ship brought not only a labour force to assist in the economic development, but one that in time created inroads for new culture and traditions in Trinidad and Tobago islands. Hence, May 30 is celebrated as the Indian Arrival Day in this Caribbean nation, as the Indians constitute about 43 per cent of their present population.

To embrace the cultural ties between India and Trinidad and Tobago, the High Commission of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in India, in association with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) has organised a five-day exhibition of paintings and sculptures, titled, “Milap” showcasing works of four artists — Pankaj Guru, B.K. Guru, Anita Chandradath Singh and Tessa Alexander.

Fragment Series, contemplation

“My pieces show some aspects of our culture that came from our Indian ancestors but over time have evolved to become our own,” says Tessa.
Pankaj, who is the youngest artist exhibiting at “Milap”, is showcasing his creation through sculptures and a short film. “I have a series of six bronze sculptures that are dressed in ice dresses called Awakening. At the core of it, all six have similar faces but are dressed according to different religions and cultures. As the ice melts, one finds a similar body. We all are one and have originated from the same source. But, due to ignorance, we have kept ourselves in tight compartments of culture, languages, caste and creed,” says Pankaj.

Anita Chandradath Singh’s works range across mediums including watercolour, mixed media and clay. Anita is the wife of the High Commissioner of Trinidad and Tobago in India. “My work depicts the history of the country since Indentureship. The Arrival, an ink on paper sketch, shows the first ship that sailed from India carrying the indentured labourers from UP and Bihar, arriving in Trinidad,” says Anita.

Another work, Mudras and Taals, highlights the influence of Indian music, instruments and dance within the vast Indian diaspora. It is amazing how though Indo-Trinidadians do not generally understand Hindi or other Indian languages, they beautifully capture Indian dance and sing all forms of Indian music including Bhojpuri and songs from the Bollywood industry.

The exhibition is on at Azad Bhawan till June 5

For the original report go to

Images by Tessa Alexander at

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