Culture & Lifestyle / Simply Awestruck: Art Exhibit Of Autistic Teen Artist Niam Jain Continues To Amaze

Simply Awestruck: Art Exhibit Of Autistic Teen Artist Niam Jain Continues To Amaze

Culture & Lifestyle Oct 29, 2018

Last year, we were thrilled to recognize autistic artist Niam Jain in The ANOKHI List 2017 Coffee Table Book and with The ANOKHI Award, so when we found out he was planning a solo exhibition Toronto we couldn’t wait to catch up with this wunderkind and see his latest collection. We explore how the (almost sold out!) art exhibit of autistic teen artist Niam Jain continues to amaze. 

*You can check out his work from October 11 through November 10, 2018 (Tuesday to Saturday from 11am to 6pm) at the Abbozzo Art Gallery located at 401 Richmond Street West, Suite 128 Toronto, Ontario Canada. 

Who is Niam Kumar Jain?

Niam Jain, Toronto’s very own, was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, which impacts one’s interactions and mannerisms, at just two years old. Jain “has limited verbal ability and comprehension.” At first, the diagnosis was difficult for his family to navigate, especially as members of the South Asian community where the conversation and support are often limited or non-existent. According to Global News, Jain’s parents were very concerned about what Niam would do if something were to ever happen to them.



Art Exhibit Of Autistic Teen Artist Niam Jain Continues To Amaze
Art Exhibit Of Autistic Teen Artist Niam Jain Continues To Amaze: Jain has transitioned from behind the canvas to being in front of the camera, and he loves it! Photo Credit:


They need not have worried though because the universe had bigger plans for Jain. During the summer of 2015, Jain was given painting supplies by his parents “…when his family plans” fell through. At this point, Jain’s mother, who often assists him in his home art studio, began to realize that her son had untapped potential and talent.


Let’s Talk Art:

Jain’s paintings are bold and colourful, telling a vivid and layered story about what he is feeling and thinking that he cannot yet articulate. His paintings exude and elicit love and joy from the audience. To explain this, Jain’s mother, Nina, notes that “Niam doesn’t understand hate and negativity, he only understands loves, and if you look at his choice of colours, they’re bold and bright, and the way he places them [gives them] meaning.” As well, with autism, Jain “sees the world differently,” which is apparent when examining the intricacies of his paintings, thus demonstrating that being ‘different’ is not necessarily a negative thing.

Jain began to sell his artwork in 2015 and, as of 2017, had already impressively amassed about $50K from the sales! Art collector, Andy Cumming, has purchased a couple of Jain’s paintings, having a huge appreciation for “the way the colours are juxtaposed, the fine detail, the texture, and the overall composition.” Meanwhile, Global News reports that Jain’s work is compared to art that would have been composed “…by a 50-year-old seasoned painter.” As well, Jain’s work is often compared to Jean-Paul Riopelle (the noted Canadian painter and sculptor), which is fitting as they both incorporate their palette knives in their creative processes.


Art Exhibit Of Autistic Teen Artist Niam Jain Continues To Amaze
Art Exhibit Of Autistic Teen Artist Niam Jain Continues To Amaze: Check out some of the paintings from Jain’s past and current collections! Photo Credit:


With that said, Jain has created quite a stir in the art world due to his young age, given that he navigates life with autism, and he has no formal training but is pumping out mesmerizing and meaningful pieces that trained artists take decades to perfect. In fact, at just 15 years old, Jain has consistently released work since breaking out into the scene in 2015 and has had a group exhibition at the Gallery of Inspiration (2015) and solo exhibitions at We Are Your Sisters Yogathon (2015), Mackenzie Health Hospital (2016), Autism Speaks Canada (2016), Kontemporary Gallery Alberta (2016), and the Faculty Club at the University of Toronto (2017). Meanwhile, Jain’s latest and most impressive solo exhibit (where most of the pieces are already sold) is running at the Abbozzo Gallery in Toronto between October 18 to November 10, 2018!


Art Exhibit Of Autistic Teen Artist Niam Jain Continues To Amaze
Art Exhibit Of Autistic Teen Artist Niam Jain Continues To Amaze: Check out this exquisite and bold piece from Jain’s latest collection! Photo Credit:


Jain’s mother, Nina, notes that prior to beginning to paint, her son was a “flight risk [as he would] runaway.” But now, Jain has changed, “he’s not a flight risk, he has life skills, he stays [among people], he’s confident, he’s happy, he tells [his parents when] he wants to paint, and he’s [also gaining] more language [skills and now desires to say things], such as greeting and shaking everyone’s hand at the opening of his most recent exhibit!” According to Jain’s mom, “the painting in itself has brought [Jain’s] inner self out and motivated him to want to tell [his family] things.” As well, Niam has gained important “life skills, he’s learned how to use money, he knows the concept of money, he knows how to buy his paints, he knows how to use his credit card, and [can even] go in a cab now on his own. [Jain] has developed more “independent skills and grown as an individual,” which has also been a relief for his parents knowing that their son will be able to survive without them as he is “not only…employed, but he loves what he does.”


Niam – the Ambassador of Ability:

Jain has gained popularity as a result of his work, which has been “acknowledged as significant contribution to Gestural Abstract Art and Abstract Expressionism” and captured hearts with his story that makes it clear you can do anything you put your mind to, no matter what. Jain has been recognized by Anokhi Media at The Anokhi Awards in 2017, where he received a standing ovation. The young South Asian artist has also been covered by CTV News, CBC, Accessible Media, and Global News.

Aside from his art, Jain has ventured into the world of modelling (which he loves)! Jain’s first gig was with Samsung Canada in 2016, where he (as well as a few of his paintings) appeared in their “Look At Me” campaign across Canada. The campaign was based on an app that Samsung launched for children with autism that was “…designed to help children on the spectrum learn how to better make eye contact, and recognize facial expressions.”


Art Exhibit Of Autistic Teen Artist Niam Jain Continues To Amaze
Art Exhibit Of Autistic Teen Artist Niam Jain Continues To Amaze: Jain appeared in Samsung Canada’s “Look At Me” Campaign in 2016! Photo Credit:


Moving forward, Jain is using his success in the art world, coupled with his comfort in front of the camera to inspire change, in terms of the way children with autism are thought about by society. Jain will use his transition into modelling to be a champion of neurodiversity and represent the millions of people who face various challenges. The hope is to work with various brands and have Jain be the face of those brands to bring about awareness regarding neurodiversity. This will allow people to connect with Jain’s journey and learn that autism does not have to be a limitation.

Jain’s mother explains that “There’s a conception that individuals on the autism spectrum, especially individuals like Niam who have the degree of autism that he does, that they’re going to be a burden on society, that they’re going to constantly need care, whether it’s health care or individual care. So, there’s a perception of the cost of individuals with autism. But, in Niam’s case, [his mother believes] that he is breaking down these barriers because, [as Nina’s notes] if [children] are nurtured and provided love, [as well as] an opportunity to [learn] and develop [new] skills, they can be contributing members of society and earn a wage. In Niam’s case, it’s painting, but in someone else’s case…there are so many vocational skills that don’t require speech that are [also] repetitive. And so, [she urges that it’s important to] start looking at these vocational skills and pairing it up with the skills of children.” Jain’s mother also notes that it’s crucial to begin examining “alternative ways to teach children [in relation to vocational training in order to] get more kids into the workforce.”

Most importantly though, as an Ambassador of Ability (as Jain has been rightfully dubbed), his efforts will be impactful within the South Asian community and help to break down cultural barriers surrounding autism. For example, Jain’s mother, Nina, notes that while there is more awareness about autism within the South Asian community, “there is still that cultural barrier that [is ingrained and reinforces the mindset that parents should] not talk about [autism], [while making them want to] hide [their] kids, [forcing them to feel] embarrassed, [such as if] their friends are starring [at their child], [and they lose hope] that [their child] will be a doctor or engineer or go to university.”


Art Exhibit Of Autistic Teen Artist Niam Jain Continues To Amaze
Art Exhibit Of Autistic Teen Artist Niam Jain Continues To Amaze: Jain will use his success to fuel his plight to be an Ambassador of Ability! Photo Credit:


This type of mindset, which is prevalent in the South Asian community, was one of the motivating factors in getting Jain on the web and further into modeling, as Jain’s success and growth will serve as a tangible example of what a child with autism could be if they are nurtured, loved, and encouraged.


So, What’s Next For Jain?

First, he’s got a lifestyle blog launching in the coming week that will “concentrate on Jain wearing and promoting different brands,” such as Zara or Burberry. The blog will also talk about “some of the difficulties that Jain has as an individual with autism” providing real-life stories about his struggle with “fine motor skills, processing” as well as documenting his successes. The hope is that the blog, by showcasing Jain’s difficulties, events he attends, and happy moments, will bring further (and more positive) awareness about autism to the South Asian community as there is a heavy resistance within the community to talk about it.


Art Exhibit Of Autistic Teen Artist Niam Jain Continues To Amaze
Art Exhibit Of Autistic Teen Artist Niam Jain Continues To Amaze: Take a little piece of Jain’s art with you with this mug (which is a hot seller) that’s for sale on his online shop. Photo Credit:


Meanwhile, Jain was recently invited to attend the PPES Canada Gala, where he donated $500 from his artwork to an all-girls school in India, which covers one child’s tuition for the year. For Jain, the story and change he is trying to inspire for children who are “on the autism spectrum, who have neurodiversity, can with the right accommodations have a career, but also give back. They can be contributing members of society.” As well, attending these types of events, particularly when they are South Asian is important as it allows Jain to garner more awareness about his story, while also challenging the deep-seated stigmas that are alive in the community.

Jain also has a shop online, which will soon include more wearable merchandise, such as t-shirts, jewelry that inspire people to “feel good and positive” and to have a piece of Jain’s artwork as their own.

In the meantime, it will be exciting to see both Jain’s personal progression as he grows and his professional development as his career continues to catapult to new heights. One thing is for certain though, Jain’s success and motivation to break down cultural boundaries surrounding autism will be a key driver of change within the South Asian community and more, and this is just the beginning for this talented young artist!


Main Image Photo Credit:

Devika Goberdhan

Devika Goberdhan


Devika (@goberdhan.devika) is an MA graduate who specialized in Political Science at York University. Her passion and research throughout her graduate studies pushed her to learn about and unpack hot button issues. Thus, since starting ANOKHI in 2016, she has written extensively about many challengi...


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