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Sir Sobha Singh (1901–1986) is arguably the most well known contemporary painter Punjab has ever produced.

Contents

Early life

He was born on 29 November 1901 in a Ramgarhia Sikh family in Sri Hargobindpur, Gurdaspur district of Punjab. His father, Deva Singh, was in the Indian cavalry.

Education and training

At age 15, Sobha Singh entered the Industrial School at Amritsar for a one-year course in art and craft. He joined the British Indian army as a draughtsman and served in Baghdad, Mesopotamia (now Iraq). In 1923 he left army and returned to Amritsar, where he opened his art studio. In the same year, he married Bibi Inder Kaur on Baisakhi day. He worked from his studios at Amritsar, Lahore (1926) and Delhi (1931).

In 1946, He went back to Lahore and opened his studio at Anarkali and was working as an art director for a film when he was forced to leave the city due to partition of the country.[1] In 1949 he settled down in Andretta (near Palampur), a remote and then little-known place in the Kangra Valley, beginning his career as a painter.

Painting

During his 38-year stay at Andretta, S. Sobha Singh painted hundreds of paintings. His main focus was Sikh gurus, their life and work. His series on the Sikh gurus have dominated to an extent that his paintings dominate the public's perception associated with Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh.

The portrait he made in honour of the 500th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak in 1969 is the one most people believe to be the visage of Guru Nanak. Sobha Singh painted pictures of other gurus as well, Guru Amar Das, Guru Tegh Bahadur and Guru Har Krishan.

His paintings of Sohni Mahiwal and Heer Ranjha were also very popular. He also painted impressive portraits of national heroes and leaders like Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Kartar Singh Sarabha, Mahatma Gandhi, Lal Bahadur Shastri etc.[2]

His murals are displayed in the art gallery of Indian Parliament House in New Delhi. The panel depicting the evolution of Sikh history features Guru Nanak with Bala and Mardana on one side; and Guru Gobind Singh in meditation on the other. Sobha Singh also dabbled in sculpture, and did the busts of some eminent Punjabis such as M.S. Randhawa, Prithviraj Kapoor and Nirmal Chandra, and an incomplete head-study of the Punjabi poetess Amrita Pritam. The originals of his works are displayed in his studio at Andretta.

Sobha Singh died in Chandigarh on 21 August 1986.

Awards

Numerous awards and distinctions were conferred on him, the prominent being the title of State Artist of the Punjab Government in 1974 and the Padma Shri of the Government of India in 1983[3]. He was conferred upon the degree of Doctor of Literature (Honoris Causa) by Punjabi University, Patiala[4].

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting released a documentary film titled Painter of the People based on his life and works. The British Broadcasting Corporation also made a documentary on him in 1984. Indian Government issued postal stamp in honor of Sir Sobha Singh in 2001[5].

References

External links

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