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ARTS CORNER: Dreaming of the Present with Ron Sangha

There Goes My Flight, limited edition digital print, by Ron Sangha. - Courtesy the artist
There Goes My Flight, limited edition digital print, by Ron Sangha.
— image credit: Courtesy the artist

The Deer Lake Gallery has gotten over its January Blues (exhibit) and is moving on into February with a solo exhibit entitled Dreaming of the Present, featuring work by digital artist Ron Sangha.

Sangha documents his own physical and spiritual journeys in intensely coloured photo montages. His multicultural upbringing informs his exploration of new cultures through camera, digital tablet and pen. I spoke recently with Sangha about his background:

Lewis: Tell me about your multicultural upbringing?

Sangha: I was born in Manila, Philippines, where my mother’s family lived for about 40 years. Both my parents are Indian. We were not able to become Philippine citizens so my family emigrated to Canada in 1970. I don’t think I even understood that I was different from anyone else until I came to Vancouver.

Lewis: How did that feeling of difference contribute to your becoming an artist?

Sangha: I always felt different inside in my younger years but at the same time, like a typical boy, I wanted to fit in at school. I had a lot of interest in artists ever since my dad bought books about the great Renaissance artists and then Picasso. I remember Dad telling me Picasso was the most successful living artist of all time. Success is a big word in immigrant families.

Lewis: How long have you been working as a professional photographer? What other kind of artwork were you doing?

Sangha: I started my studio in 1989 after working for a large commercial studio for a couple of years. I have always been creating and experimenting with various media, most recently working with digital photography files, software and a tablet with an art pen as my primary tools. I started to share my art work with the public 18 months ago.

Lewis: Why is now the time to unveil your work?

Sangha: I have always created work in my commercial business to make my customers happy and at this stage I decided to focus on work that would mean something to me.

Lewis: I recently watched an interview in which Stephen Fry said his medium was words and he often did not know what he thought until he put it into words. Are there things you’ve learned through your artwork you didn’t know about yourself?

Sangha: I have added parts of myself into most of my art. I am always learning a deeper truth about myself and who I am. I have also learned to observe my surroundings and thoughts with greater clarity, almost like being a detached observer looking over my own life. I feel myself connected with many of the people in my artwork and our common life situations.

• There will be a special artist’s talk at 2 p.m. on Feb. 17.

• Linda Lewis is art services coordinator with the Burnaby Arts Council.

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