As curator Celine Le Merlus of the Stewart Hall Art Gallery explains, “his approach, which aims not simply to assert a personal point of view on a pressing social issue, but also to facilitate opportunities for others to express themselves freely – to speak and be heard – is characteristic of all of Aquil’s work.” (Find a PDF of select press clippings here.)
He exhibited his award-winning “Canada’s Self Portrait” project at the Canadian Museum of Immigration in Halifax and the Stewart Hall Art Gallery in Pointe-Claire, Quebec. He won an award from the Michaelle Jean Foundation to produce his “Postering Peace” art documentary that premiered at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto. His collaborative artwork honouring Québec City Muslims was delivered as a gift to the Centre culturel islamique de Québec. His commemorative portrait series of the 6 Muslim men killed in Quebec City was supported by a grant from the Silk Road Institute and a community service grant from TakingITGlobal and the Government of Canada. His collaboration with Montreal’s Imago Theatre produced larger-than-life portraits and an immersive sound play featuring 12 inspiring, everyday women, thanks to a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.
In 2023, he collaborated with the ROM (formerly, the Royal Ontario Museum) to create a collaborative artwork titled “Things will get better.” He also designed a grassroots community storytelling exhibition, “50 Years of Ismaili Migration,” that debuted at the Aga Khan Museum before embarking on a national tour. His creative projects – whether drawing, painting, film or installation – have been exhibited regionally, nationally, and internationally, in cities such as Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, Quebec City, Halifax, Whitehorse, New York, Boston, Punta Cana, Sofia, Lisbon and Copenhagen.
“Aquil Virani could not be more Canadian,” says visual arts journalist Éric Clément in La Presse. It is his culturally diverse upbringing that informs his focus on social issues. He was born in Vancouver, British Columbia to two immigrant parents; his Catholic mother was an early childhood educator from northern France and his Ismaili Muslim father was a chartered accountant of Indian descent, originally born in Tanzania in East Africa. He is driven by a desire to communicate socially relevant ideas in an accessible, interactive and engaging way.