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  • Urgent issue of The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge

    Location: Mississauga, ON

    CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: URGENT ISSUE OF THE SOCIETY FOR THE DIFFUSION OF USEFUL..
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  • 2020 Social Distancing Exhibition

    Location: Vancouver, BC

    $1,000 in Artist Prizes. We know, you’re stuck at home. While many are stocking..
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  • 10th Annual

    Location: Palm Springs, CA

    Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery announces an art call for the..
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  • Call for Art - 5th Annual Animal Kingdom Art Competition

    Location: Palm Springs, CA

    Fusion Art invites submissions for the 5th Annual Animal Kingdom online art competition. For..
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  • Call for Art - Still Life Art Competition

    Location: Palm Springs, CA

    Fusion Art invites submissions for its 14th Quarterly Art Competition – Still Life. For..
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  • 2 ARTIST/ 2 PERSPECTIVES

    Location: Windsor, ON

    The workshop offers an opportunity to have access to two outstanding painters who..
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  • National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society 2020 Spring Online International Exhibition

    Location: , ON

    $4500 in Awards - The National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society (NOAPS) invites..
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  • Beacon Original Art Spring Show & Sale

    Location: Calgary, AB

    Annual spring 2-day art show and sale with different artists in attendance each..
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  • Nooks & Crannies Outdoor Art Festival: Call to Artists

    Location: Okotoks, AB

    Okotoks Culture seeks proposals from artists to create temporary public art installations in..
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  • BORDERS - ITSLIQUID International Art and Architecture Festival

    Location: Venice,

    CALL FOR ARTISTS BORDERS | Venice July-Nov 2020 ITSLIQUID International Art and Architecture Festival Deadline:..
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  • Acrylic Painting Workshop with Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

    Location: North Vancouver, BC

    April 4/5 2020. Learn how to quickly develop rich colour and surface in..
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  • $550.00 Innovate Grants — Call for Artists + Photographers

    Location: , NY

    Innovate Grant is now accepting submissions for the Spring 2020 Cycle. Innovate Grant..
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  • CALL FOR ARTISTS: CANVAS International Art Fair

    Location: London, UK,

    CANVAS International Art Fair THE LINE Gallery, London | May 07 – October 30,..
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  • 27th Lemonville Group of Artists Show and Sale

    Location: Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville, ON

    Please join The Lemonville Group of Artists for their 27th Annual Art Show..
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  • Looking for Artist submissions

    Location: EDMONTON, AB

    Looking for submissions. In 1990, my brother Fausto passed away after a battle..
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  • “Sensuality” International Call - Art & Literature Journal - Deadline April 30, 2020

    Location: Toronto, ON

    | Theme: A glance, touch, dance, flower, scent or piece of chocolate can..
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  • Artwork Shipping Scam

    Location: , AB

    This week an artist on our site was corresponding via email with an..
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  • Geoff Farnsworth: Colour Worker

    Location: Niagara-On-The-Lake, ON

    Join the Niagara Pumphouse for the opening reception for the exhibition entitled, “Geoff..
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  • Call for Entries: Art at the Pumphouse

    Location: Niagara-On-The-Lake, ON

    The Niagara Pumphouse Arts Centre is now accepting applications for participation in Art..
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  • Exaltation : Niagara Pumphouse Instructors' Exhibition

    Location: Niagara-On-The-Lake, ON

    Niagara Pumphouse is proud to host the Instructors’ Exhibition as its first show..
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  • The Place In Between By Roland Daum

    Location: Saskatoon, SK

    ROLAND DAUM exhibits artworks inspired by landscape, especially the open sky, which has..
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  • Art, Wine, Interior Design Show

    Location: Winnipeg, MB

    Art, Wine, Interior Design Show! Exhibitor opportunities for Visual artists, Interior Designers and Wineries. Finding..
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  • National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society 2020 Spring Online International Exhibition

    Location: , ON

    The National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society (NOAPS) invites oil and acrylic painters..
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  • Land and Sky - 2 Artist/2 Perspectives

    Location: Windsor, ON

    PAINTING WORKSHOP AT SHO ART STUDIOS APRIL 3rd 4th and 5th 2020..
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  • Love At First Sight

    Location: Regina, SK

    Love At First Sight / Regina Art Collective members: Dave Gedjos / DeLee Grant..
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  • In Other Words

    Location: Regina, SK

    In Other Words / Regina Art Collective members: Nikki Jacquin / Derek Olson / Mark..
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  • Call for Art - 4th Annual Black & White Art Competition

    Location: Palm Springs, CA

    Fusion Art invites submissions for the 4th Annual Black & White online art..
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  • CALL FOR ARTISTS: VENICE INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR 2020

    Location: Venice,

    CALL FOR ARTISTS: VENICE INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR 2020 Venice | April 09 – May..
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  • CALL FOR ARTISTS: THE EXTENDED BODY 2020

    Location: London,

    CALL FOR ARTISTS: THE EXTENDED BODY – MIXING CULTURES ITSLIQUID International Art Exhibition THE..
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  • 10th Annual

    Location: Palm Springs, CA

    Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery announces an art call for the..
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  • Appreciation of the Arts

    Location: London, ON

    Three day art and music event to recognize local artists in London, Ontario...
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  • Call to Artists - 2020 Sooke Fine Arts Show

    Location: Sooke, BC

    Artists are invited to submit work for consideration to the 2020 Sooke Fine..
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  • TRAVEL EXHIBITION

    Location: Toronto, ON

    John Mantha will be participating in a group show at Twist Gallery in..
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  • ACAF (Accessible Art Fair) 2020

    Location: Brussels,

    ACAF (Accessible Art Fair) is back on October 15-18, 2020 for its 14th..
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  • Call For Artists: The Other Art Fair Toronto

    Location: Toronto, ON

    The Other Art Fair are thrilled to present the newest edition of The..
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  • Marlene Kawalez and Corynn Kokolakis

    Location: Toronto, ON

    Presented by: Cedar Ridge Gallery. Part of the Cedar Ridge Gallery Contemporary Exhibition series. March..
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Haren Vakil

By Robert Amos September 13, 2005

} Haren Vakil By Robert Amos Haren Vakil’s paintings are on show this week at the Fran Willis Gallery at 1619 Store Street, 381-3422. Vakil’s own website is located at members.shaw.ca/harenvakil. Haren Vakil is a Victoria artist who was born in Bombay - now officially known as Mumbai. One of four children, he was “the oddball. I used to draw all over the house,” he told me. His parents brought in a private teacher for him when he was 7 years old, an inspired artist who insisted that “painting doesn’t have rules - you have to be free.” Before the age of 12, Vakil recalls he made “lots of paintings. At school I was known for my painting, and I won prizes in international competitions.” Vakil’s early subjects were usually figurative, painted in poster colours with big flat brushes, regularly “churning out” paintings 24 by 30 inches, as many as 3 or 4 a day! He chose architecture as a field of study and then worked in an architectural practice for the next two years. In 1967 Vakil hitchhiked from Iran to Europe. In Holland he got a job, and soon met Thea, a Dutch woman whom he married. He was six years in Holland, working on “urban design methodologies”. When both Haren and Thea decided to take graduate studies, they chose to come to Canada - “a neutral country” - neither India nor Holland. Vakil was 12 years in Vancouver working in architecture offices, including that of Arthur Erickson. It was a job offer for Thea that brought the Vakils to Victoria in 1985. She progressed very quickly in her field and soon was encouraging him to stop wage-earning and develop his painting. And so he began again. “I’ve always been an obsessive doodler,” Vakil admitted. “All my textbooks and notebooks were a mess, covered with weird faces, little animals, lizards...”. His childish freedom was now enmeshed in the system of rules he learned as an architect. “Architecture is highly restrictive,” he reminded me. And yet he feels “architecture is the best form of art. I am more impressed by that than by painting.” Looking at the subject matter of his paintings, it is clear he is a jazz fan. “I came to know jazz when I was 18 years old,” he told me. “I saw the film called The Benny Goodman Story and I was blown away by the music.” Hieronymous Bosch was an influence, “an absolute genius, so funny and full of all kinds of things.” Vakil has a natural affinity to surrealism, the haunting cities of de Chirico and the deep blue spaces of Magritte. Oddly, at the base of the surreal is a need for formalism, an anchor for the imagery. Vakil attributes his fondness for surrealism to India. “The unexpected is continually erupting into life,” he recalled, “the bizarre juxtapositions of the chaotic urban landscape, where a Hindu god jostles with Donald Duck above a bra advertisement. It’s so bizarre!” What about landscape? “I have no desire to look and paint. It doesn’t appeal to me to copy nature. I always wanted to do something from my mind. We humans can create things, just like Nature does.” Vakil lacked confidence as an artist, and needed some training. So, in the mid-1990’s, he enrolled at the Victoria College of Art where he was admitted into the post-graduate course. His graduation exhibition took place at the Winchester Gallery. “I am having fun,” Vakil chuckled. “That’s the main thing: fun! Then you know you’re getting it right.” Not surprisingly, people often call his work “whimsical”. I told Vakil that I often search his work hoping to find a narrative thread, but he seems to take pains to avoid continuity. “I am saying nothing,” he insisted. “I don’t have a problem with that. Why don’t you look at it and see what it says to you?” Four years ago on a trip to Mumbai, it was suggested to Vakil that he apply for a show at the prestigious Jehangir Art Gallery - a private trust but a public gallery. There was a four-year waiting list for those accepted and Vakil didn’t hide his amazement that he was chosen. He has prepared 28 new paintings and 20 drawings for the show. It’s hard to tell what the Indian public’s reaction will be to an artist new and unusual to them. My reaction, cultivated over ten years of watching Vakil develop, is one of continuing interest. The subjects which collide in each of his complex works are inexplicable but fascinating. Despite his apparent openness to criticism and suggestions, he doesn’t take new ideas on board, instead working only with what comes from deep within him. This work is a natural outgrowth of the child prodigy, the doodler, the architect, the jazz fan and the surrealist. Vakil is a unique artist: not a follower and unlikely to be followed. His paintings are at once naive and yet sophisticated. They are impossible to explain and hard to forget. ___________________________________________ Copyright © 2005Robert Amos Robert Amos is an artist and art writer who lives in Victoria, B.C.. He can be contacted by e-mail and you can view his paintings at www.robertamos.com