- October 13, 2021
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Recently I had the chance to interview artist Gurmehar Singh, an up-and-coming international artist who goes by the name Gurm. Born in Amritsar, a place that she describes as a holy city in Northern India, she has spent most of her life in China, Hong Kong, and traveling the world. Growing up in different international environments has allowed her to become immersed in multi-cultural atmospheres all throughout her life, and she has always been fascinated with local cultural elements and stories from all over the world.
I’ll admit I didn’t appreciate Gurm’s work for what it was until looking at it more closely and learning about her amazing story. That and learning how much time, dedication, effort, compassion, and creativity she pours into every one of her pieces. Her work is reminiscent of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, aka “the princess of polka dots”.
Gurm says that her art reflects a way of looking beyond the obvious, and goes deeper, uncovering worlds unseen. Her signature style combines basic shapes, objects, and lines, with experimental color combinations creating beautiful intricate patterns.
What are some of your first memories about Beijing?
I was a toddler when I first came to China in 1999. At that time, foreigners were rare to be seen. What I most remember is being pulled into pictures of random Chinese locals, who saw a Wai Guo Ren (foreigner) with big eyes, and wanted to capture the moment. I remember almost everywhere there were mostly bicycles and rarely seeing any cars on the streets. I also remember it seemed like there were more trees than buildings, with just a few 5-star hotels, and a couple of malls. There were beautiful plots of land and areas full of fields. These are some of my memories from my youth, and the beginning of my time in China, before Beijing was the international cosmopolitan city that it is today. The China that I first came to, is now very different than it is today.
What are your favorite art experiences in Beijing?
My favorite has to be my most recent event in Beijing, The Rumble in the Jumble Arty Party. A huge shout out to the Mistress of Rumble, Charlotte, for inviting me, and to DJ Yori for the amazing collaboration and rocking music. It was my first-time creating art in front of a live audience, and the DJ jammed while I drew for our 90 minutes of transcendent fun. It was awesome.
What makes the Beijing art and culture scene different than other places in the world? And other places in China?
The city of Beijing has such a profound historical and cultural context, and to me, that is what makes the art and city so unique. The Beijing art scene is a great mix of both local and international art, from both established and emerging artists. Art can be found on every corner, in its many galleries, museums, artist studios, cafes, salons, or even on its unique streets. Something else that is so special, is that when creators don’t find opportunities, they can easily create their own. Whether it’s a workshop, draw and drink event, art party, bazaar, charity event, or whatever you can imagine; new ideas are born every day in Beijing.
What do you think is the future of art in Beijing?
The future of art in Beijing is very bright and full of beautiful growth. We are seeing an amazing variety of art and different art collaborations. I believe Beijing has the potential to become an art superpower.
Where is your favorite art location in Beijing? Or where is your favorite place to go and see art in Beijing? And Why?
That’s a tough one. There are so many wonderful places, but I have to say the Today Art Museum. It is my favorite because at the entrance I love being greeted by the laughing statues. I believe that one of the main purposes of art (and one of the main reasons I do art) is to spread happiness, bring a smile to the viewer’s face. So, the fact that even before you enter the space and see any exhibition, you are welcomed by the statues and smile, is just beautiful. No matter the artist exhibiting, the art style being presented, or the theme of the exhibition, you will be in a happy zone while viewing it. That is what makes it unique from the other spaces.
Tell me a little bit about your time studying in Beijing.
I studied in the Beijing campus of the University of Colorado Denver, at ICB (International College Beijing). It was such a beautiful campus, with nature all around, and it was an interesting experience.
Most of the students were Chinese, some from the US, and some from elsewhere. This is a time in my life that really exposed me to many more international perspectives, and allowed me to open up even more. Something that many people don’t know about me is that my first major choice was economics before I switched to communications. And then finally followed my dream to become an artist after finishing my Master’s in Fine Art in Hong Kong.
Where can people go to see your art?
Well in November, I will have a new exhibition opening in Wuqing, which is just about 30 minutes from Beijing in a really cool location called Creativo. Creativo is an art area designed to emulate Milano, Italy, and since I was honored to be chosen to send some of my pieces to the Puglia International Art Festival in Italy it seems pretty perfect.
You can also find Gurm’s work at the following channels:
Wechat Channel: SoulArtbyGurm心印画
READ: Artist PazViola: “When I Move to a New Place, It Certainly Affects My Art”
Images courtesy of Gurmehar Singh