Jhangiani Shakun

By Devon Michael


I know I’m not supposed to touch the painting, but it’s not really fair when they are made to have such texture. I want to touch it! I want to touch it so much…

What’s the first thing you learn as a kid in a museum? Don’t touch. Well, there’s a reason for that, and when the work is acrylic and mixed media, you don’t want to touch it because it can damage it. But then we have a problem when the work is so alluring that I, an adult, have to whisper at my inner child and put my hand in my pockets to make sure I don’t embarrass myself.

I imagine Shakun hears that quite a lot. Her work as an abstract acrylic painter is inviting, more than anything else I can think to say about it. It asks you to come and play.

The works of hers I’ve seen in person were a series of what I saw to be landscapes, though none like any I can liken to reality. It’s as though she can see something we don’t. That may be a commonality among abstracts, but what I like best in abstract work is seeing something as though through different eyes. Or perhaps within a different range of visible light.

That’s the playfulness I mean, her abstracts, especially her abstract landscapes invite you somewhere just out of reach, somewhere you’d likely go if only you could. Somewhere you want to touch. Her art is abstract, by definition, but I see it as ethereal also, inspired by some distant, untouchable intuition. 

She often works in opposites. Contrasting textures, and utilizing multimedia to bring it out of two dimensions. It reaches for you in the same way it makes you want to reach towards it. Sometimes she paints faces, too, I have seen them. And, of course, they’re familiar, but in truth, they’re inspired by hymn and chant. 

She is good, it’s true. She’s worked in film, and if you live in Vancouver, her work is all over, in private and public collections. It’s easy to understand why. She takes you somewhere, somewhere familiar but just out of reach, and it stays with you when you look away, but you can almost see it again when you close your eyes. It’s a game, almost. It’s playful. You’ll never remember it exactly right; you have to look again. 


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