A permanent collection of Sikh art at the MMFA, a first in Canada

A permanent collection of Sikh art at the MMFA, a first in Canada

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The collection is housed in the Stéphan Crétier and Stéphany Maillery wing for the arts of the Whole World, whose mandate is to exhibit works of art from ancestral cultures from here and elsewhere.

Notable works include drawings representing the 10 gurus of Sikhism, including Guru Nanak, the founder of this religion born in Indian Punjab in the 15e century.

The collection also includes illuminations representing maharajas, ritual objects, rare coins and traditional shawls.

Gifts from a renowned physicist

The permanent collection of Sikh art has been installed in the heart of the Stéphan Crétier and Stéphany Maillery wing for the arts of the whole world.

Photo: MMFA / Denis Farley

Most of these objects come from the personal collection of Narinder Singh Kapany, an Indian-American physicist known for his work on fiber optics, who died in 2020.

His bequest was entrusted to Roshi Chadha, Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees of the National Gallery of Canada, and her husband Baljit Chadha, a businessman of Indian origin who settled in Montreal. 50 years ago.

For Roshi Chadha, this project allows the 500,000 members of the Sikh community in Canada to see themselves represented in an elite institution. It’s a sense of pride, it’s a sense of belonging, and it’s a sense of “Yes, I’m somebody, too.”she said in an interview with the CBC (New window).

Roshi Chadha and her husband Baljit Chadha at the MMFA, June 9, 2022

Photo: (Sonali Karnick/CBC)

The Chadhas have already promoted Canadian art in their country of origin, organizing in 2014 the installation of an inukshuk – a stone structure that the Inuit use as a landmark – in front of the High Commission of Canada in India, in New Delhi.

The collection of Sikh art at the MMFA is an equivalent in the other directionaccording to Roshi Chadha.

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