In our digital age where selfies have become so prevalent, Virani presents Canada’s Self Portrait. Together with his collaborator Rebecca Jones, he travelled coast-to-coast across Canada and collected over 800 drawings made by Canadians from all corners of the country. To represent the multi-layered complexity of Canadian identity, Virani redrew these 800+ sketches into a single artwork. Accompanied by a documentary, this collective creation endeavours to demonstrate our past and present, whether we are indigenous, we are immigrants to Canada, or we have been Canadian citizens for generations. The work’s empty space symbolizes the untold story of Canada – a relatively young country, according to Virani, with a troubled colonial past and a promising future.

Materials: 18 wood panels and ink.

Creative Process

Aquil Virani explores themes of identity, inclusion and social justice in his work – a focus stemming from his diverse upbringing. Nicknamed “the people’s artist” because of his participative and accessible artistic approach, Virani regularly creates his work in front of an audience, often including contributions from spectators. He uses a variety of media, working especially with acrylic paints, spray paints, stencils and ink.

The Artist

While Virani grew up in Vancouver, he now lives and works in Montreal. He was accepted into the Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design in his hometown, but decided to pursue an undergraduate degree at McGill University where he was awarded the prestigious J.W. McConnell Scholarship.



Aquil Virani