The Sunday Leader

Art Conquers All – Vicky Shahjahan

By Tia Goonaratna

@tiabuffy

Vicky Shahjahan is a colourful, vibrant personality who’s full of love, laughter, and smiles. Vicky is a half Indian, half Sri Lankan child of light who lets his light shine onto everything he touches.  Even as a child, Vicky has always been fanatical about art – he remembers as a child, that every time his father took him to a shopping complex, he would run to the stationary section to grab all the coloured pencils and drawing books.

“I have always lived through Art and always will because that’s where I’ve literally found myself, Art is what I’m born with and I know what exactly I should do with Art. There is no other way I could find to express myself except Art. So Art is everything to me.”

Vicky’s ideas of creativity blossomed when he worked as a professional henna artist. From there, he became very much artistically driven, and went to many art workshops while meeting different artists. Since he moved to Sri Lanka, he took the time to learn about society, the culture, and the lifestyle of the place he grew up which allowed him to understand his surroundings better. He currently lives in Slave Island, and for Vicky, it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world. “Slave Island is a heterogeneous place and people are very  united regardless of what religion or race you are but also way more conservative. “

Even being the friendly open hearted person he is, Vicky experienced a lot of challenges from his surroundings. “It wasn’t any easier to live a life in Slave Island but it was also super challenging for me at the same time. There was a time I was not accepted by many people for being who I was. I was often judged for being different and after everything that I have gone through in my life and community.” With a lot of judgement made towards him, he went deeper into his art. As long as he has his art, he kept on smiling without letting the negativity break his spirit.

The challenges he faced, and the degrading, demotivating, and underestimation he received only pushed him to strive higher. Even through all the hardships, Vicky never stopped smiling or spreading his light especially to children. His aunt, who passed away due to cancer a few years ago, gave Vicky the responsibility of raising her daughter. It was a huge responsibility for Vicky, but he considers his niece as a gift from God who transformed his life. He began to change his life to set a good example to her, and for her to be inspired to be herself.

“Both my parents are proud of what I’m doing and how far I have come to prove them who I actually am, Deep in my heart I felt the happiness of doing what I love and who I want to become in my life. And they understood it”.

Vicky’s artistic talents were highly celebrated when a project named ‘Tourism for All’, organised by Road to Rights Organisation and the University of Colombo brought in many talented artists to work with special needs children. He has also been working with Colombo Art Biennale talking on architecture workshops held in Slave Island.

Currently, he’s working on a big project. “There are few places I have been around in Slave Island which I found so many walls that were not painted for years.  Well, I got inspired by the idea from Cuba walls, so I would love to do Mural art within the community which I live in just like Cuba. So basically it’s going to be a week project where I explained to few people about the concept of mural painting and they all agreed and are  excited to work with me and my team.”’ – With the objective of educating the people of how a community works to spreading awareness of the wonders of art to the community. He’s currently bringing artists together for the project, and trying to set up a channel of communication to work on the project as a collective. “This is my first step as an artist and I have never thought out of the box but now yes. I’m actually feeling more confident than ever before because of what I’m going to do now.

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