Jessie Sohpaul's Street Art Is Where South Asian Identities Meets Future Nostalgia

Jessie Sohpaul's Street Art Is Where South Asian Identities Meets Future Nostalgia

In my recent hunt for south Asian artists and exhibitions going viral on the internet, I stumbled across a cheeky ‘tired of white people, white walls and white wine’ quote that summarized the sentiment of the art world precisely.

When you google ‘art’, the web search directs you to digital patterns, paintings of the Mona Lisa and Merriam Webster definitions of the word. Growing up, our idea of art revolved around renaissance paintings and Van Gogh creations. However, there is a vast spere of South Asian artists carving their own niche against the banality of whitewashed spaces.

Image Courtesy:
Image Courtesy:
Jessie Sohpaul's ode to Virgil Abloh

Art that touches upon intimate notions of identity, as experienced by the POC community as a whole, can prove to be empowering and often reflects the importance of honouring one’s roots.

For Jessie Sohpaul, the complexity of his multicultural identity transpired to be a solid motivation that drove his artistic process.

An artist, designer and creative director, Sohapul’s work is heavily influenced by his experience as a first-generation born into a Punjabi immigrant family and raised in Canada. he draws from street art as well as traditional South Asian visual metaphors and scripts.

Documenting the south Asian experience through audiovisual and typographical mediums, he constantly finds himself grappling with the idea of future nostalgia. “In the next 100 years, what’s it like going to be Punjabi,” the creative thinks out loud as he strives to incorporate the energy and strength derived from his cultural background into diverse artistic endeavours.

Stemming from this constant tryst with the grey area between the familiar and unfamiliar of the past, present, and future, Jessie founded the Do Not Touch art collective. Focused on creating the ‘in-between’ when cultures connect, the artist admits that the meta name is all about grabbing attention and leaving the viewer an open space for preservation and performance.

Connecting a wider audience to the culturally rich heritage, Sohpaul’s work experiments with Punjabi scripts in a refined way and creates distinct patterns and textures. Taking popular references like Pingu, the beloved animated penguin, a cartoon significant to every brown person’s childhood or the iconic Parle G kid, Sohpaul has a playful style of approaching significant topics that evokes a sense of familiarity and well-balanced representation through anecdotal articulation and a refreshing art form.

You can view his work here.

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