Evan Sharma will be one of 250 artists from Canada and abroad showcasing their work at this year’s Artist Project Contemporary Art Fair in Toronto. Having his paintings selected for the Project was exciting, he says—especially so, because Sharma, age 12, will be the youngest exhibitor in the Project’s nine-year history. “Until this year,” he explains, “the youngest person ever at the show was seventeen.”
Yet there’s far more to Sharma than the novelty of his tender years. His work, mostly acrylic on canvas landscapes and portraits of admired figures, belies an uncommon aptitude for capturing energy and narrative, and a keen sense of colour. “A lot of people say my work is Fauvism, and I think it’s a mix with that, and impressionism as well,” he explains of his style. Upon displaying his paintings on the walls of Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning, and in the Days on Front restaurant in his hometown of Kingston, Ontario, Sharma became inundated with calls from prospective buyers. “I wasn’t expecting it,” he says. (Neither were his parents).
Sharma has always enjoyed drawing, but cites a visit to the Louvre at age 10 as the catalyst for his commitment to take painting more seriously. Now, he works from a studio in his family home’s converted basement, listening to jazz and occasionally employing the use of a stepping stool to reach his canvases. “Chet Baker is a favourite of mine,” he says. It’s early to be making calls for what the future may hold for the young talent, but a career in the arts “is viable,” he asserts. “It will definitely always be a hobby.”