By Kathy Rowe

“If you asked 100 people what is art, you would get 100 different answers and they would all be correct,” commented artist Jogi Makhani. “It’s an individual experience. Art is between the medium and the artist.”

Jogi is a multi-dimensional artist who sculpts, paints and writes poetry. His sculptures (wood, stone, resin) are warm yet powerful. His paintings (pen, ink, brush) convey optimism and his poetry is introspective. “All my work has to do with positivity and hope. It’s my action and reaction to the world I live in.”

When you have a conversation with Jogi, you can’t help but be taken in by his intelligence, his smiling eyes and his peaceful manner. His journey from India to Canada has been filled with both hardship and success. Jogi was raised in India by his father, a renowned orthopedic surgeon, and his mother, a homemaker.

“My father was a hobbyist who got up early every morning to paint the sunrise,” remembered Jogi. “I was eight years old and I remember someone asking my dad – why do you paint the trunk of the tree navy blue? It is dark brown. My dad’s words were, ‘because that’s how I see it.’ Later I realized that this response has become my mantra. Art is not expressing what you feel like, it is what you feel for.”

Jogi grew up to be a talented and recognized artist following his extensive art schooling in Goa, India. By the age of 25 he had five works hanging in the National Gallery of Modern Art in India. In 1990, confident in his work, Jogi went to Paris, France, on a research grant to study for one year at Ecole Nationale Superieure Des Beaux-Arts.

From France he travelled to Toronto with his wife and newborn son to settle down. Jogi described his early years as an artist in mid-Scarborough as very tough. When asked about the differences between India and Canada regarding art, Jogi said, “In India art is a medium of expression – it’s part of the culture and the tradition. I feel here in Canada, it is a decoration on the wall.”

Living in basement apartments with a young family was very stressful. For two years he did screen printing (making t-shirts) to make ends meet while he continued to work on his own art. Jogi remained committed to his craft despite the hardships. “I have always believed that if you are true to yourself, the other person will feel it and good things will happen.”

Living conditions improved and in 1997 his family moved to Centennial. “This area is a secluded corner of Scarborough. As an artist, I have the atmosphere with Lake Ontario and the walking trails. To me it’s the feeling of the fresh air.

“As well, we have the CCRA! I must compliment the work the CCRA is doing in the community. A lot of volunteering hours have been put into its success. I would advise the people reading this article who are not current members to join the CCRA. The annual membership fee is only $15 per household. It’s a great way to stay connected in the community.”

Jogi recently completed a show at the Clarke Centre for the Arts in Guildwood. He is currently preparing for a large visual arts show called The Artist Project. This show runs from April 13 to 16 at the Better Living Centre on the CNE grounds.

I wish Jogi much success at this spring show. His advice to aspiring young artists is: “If you want inspiration, seek within! If you develop that process, you don’t have to depend on anything.”

To see photos and learn more about Jogi and his art, check out his Instagram page @jogimakhani