Student’s artwork draws on contributions from the McGill community
By Katherine Gombay
Aquil Virani’s art is full of unexpected and quirky connection. Converging train tracks plunge into square cows. A milk carton morphs into a whale. That sits beside a church… with cat’s footprints leading towards it. There are stories within stories. And though the connections and convolutions of the images that flow together are Virani’s own, the original drawings which inspired them are all by members of the McGill community, whether they are students, faculty, parents or friends. “For a campus and community that doesn’t think of itself as artsy this is pretty good,” says Virani as he sits back and looks at the painting We are all Artists that is one of the pieces in the show COPYCAT, which opened on campus this week.
Virani has been working on the painting for two years, patiently accumulating the raw material he needs from people he meets within the McGill community. He is convinced that anyone can make art and has set about proving it by asking people attending different arts events at McGill to contribute drawings that he can work with. He then copies all the work he receives into a single painting that attempts to honour the style of the original. “I try and make people feel comfortable by always offering them a ripped piece of paper that looks like it comes out of the recycling,” says Virani. “Most people, even if they say they can’t draw, usually have one ‘go-to’ drawing that is their thing.”
This is why among the smiley faces, you can find Count Dracula and Mickey Mouse and a fair number of renditions of male genitalia that Virani has managed to place discreetly around the painting. Virani, didn’t want to reject any of the drawings he received, because for him this is a community art work and he describes himself simply as the sponge that sucks up the inspiration from others before then recreating their work on canvas. He estimates that there are between 300 – 400 drawings that have gone into making up the finished work and is particularly intrigued by sentences such as ‘you are doing it wrong’ and ‘what a long strange trip it’s been’ that people chose to contribute instead of drawings.
Virani, who is in his final year of a B.A., which combines courses in Philosophy and Management, hopes that he will be able to do similar projects both around Montreal and across the country in the future.
Aquil Virani’s COPYCAT exhibition is in the AUS lounge in the basement of the Leacock Building. It will be up for the next three weeks.