By Gurmukh Singh

TORONTO: Not many Indians in Canada know Chandigarh-born artist Gary (Gaurav) Taxali, but he is an internationally recognized artist whose work appears in major museums in the world, including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.

And he boasts the likes of Levi’s, Warner Bros, Paramount Pictures, Sony, MTV, and Coca-Cola, etc., as his clients.

This Indian-born artist, who left India in 1967 when he was just one, has just added another feather to his cap by having the privilege of designing 25-cent Canadian coins.

Showing you the newly minted coins with various themes, Taxali says, “I was asked by the Royal Canadian Mint to design celebratory coins with six themes: birthday, wedding, tooth fairy, O Canada, holiday and new baby.’’

Interestingly, the limited editions of these coins also feature Gary’s initials – GT.

“Yes, I am the first artist to have this privilege – my initials on the Canadian coins,’’ he beams.

“The coins will be available at designated places and people can present them as gifts on special occasions,’’ says the artist.

Taxali, whose surname in Hindi means someone who mints coins, sees it a surprising coincidence that he (a Taxali) was asked to design the coins.

“I told them (the Royal Canadian Mint) that my name means this thing, and they were surprised,’’ laughs Taxali.

He also vaguely recalls that his forefathers were originally Vohras or something, but they took to minting coins and the surname Taxali stuck to them.

A multi-faceted artist, Taxali uses various media – ink, oil, acrylic, enamel and gouache – and surfaces – paper, plywood, steel, aluminum – to express his genius which manifests in paintings, children’s books, comics, toys and now coin designs.
Not many people know that he also designed the cover of the Grammy-nominated album @#%&*! Smilers by Aimee Mann in 2009.
Though he knows only `thoda-thoda’ Hindi, his Indian background and Bollywood influences are obvious in his works.

He says he learnt a little Hindi while watching Bollywood movies with his sister when they were kids. But he makes a fascinating use of his little knowledge of Hindi in his work. Many of his pieces carry his name Gary in Hindi, here and there.

In fact, he did a series called Hindi Nicknames as part of his exhibit in New York some time ago.

Taxali says India is in his DNA and Bollywood’s cinematography fascinates him no end.

And he adds he is looking forward to the day when he mounts an exhibition in India because “that’s my country.’’