Sikh-Briton Overcomes Autism With Art: VIKRAMDEEP SINGH JOHAL
Raj Singh Tattal
They say the pen is mightier than the sword. His pencil is no less powerful. It has helped him cope not only with autism but also depression and unemployment, bringing him back from the brink.
East London-born Raj Singh Tattal, 41, is a freelance artist who uses graphite and charcoal pencils to create realistic black-and-white artwork. His specialisation: drawings of legendary Sikh figures, such as the Gurus, Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Bhagat Puran Singh.
His latest creation is a salute to Baba Banda Singh Bahadar, the 300th anniversary of whose martyrdom falls next month. The 18th century Sikh general is shown standing imperiously in the battleground of Chappar Chiri, with the vanquished ruler of Sirhind, Wazir Khan, kneeling before him.
It took Raj about 100 hours to complete the work.
Also known as the ‘Pen-Tacular-Artist’, Raj was only 15 when he came up with Rajman, a Sikh superhero comic strip that was published in a UK newspaper.
After graduating with a degree in product design in 1999, he struggled hard to build a career of his choice. There was a gloomy 12-year period during which he didn’t draw at all and had to work in fields unrelated to the arts or design. In 2012, he was forced out of his job and labelled redundant.
“With time on my hands, I started drawing again and decided to make art my full-time career,” he recalls.
Raj was 38 when he was diagnosed with autism (Aspergers Syndrome), a developmental disorder that explained his reclusiveness and obsessive behaviour. However, rather than wasting his creative energy on “silly things like games or films, I decided to focus on drawing.”
And, after a 10-year-long ordeal, he finally managed to pass the driving test.
Raj is passionate about raising awareness of taboo subjects such as autism and depression, banking on first-hand experience. He is preparing for an exhibition of portraits of autistic people, in an effort to break the stereotype of what someone with autism actually looks like. He’s also not oblivious to current Sikh issues, going by his support (and pictorial tribute) to India’s fasting activist Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa.
The artist, whose full name is Rajinder Parsad Singh, normally works in solitude, but his art is created under the guidance of his Uganda-born mother (his father came to Britain from Ludhiana in the 1960s). Raj hasn’t been to Punjab for about 30 years, but he plans to make a trip soon.
His ultimate source of inspiration is Guru Gobind Singh.
“He had the heart of a saint and the body of a warrior and I’ve always aspired to be like that,” says Raj Singh, who has held exhibitions in the UK, Canada and France.
His wide array of works is waiting to be appreciated … Please CLICK here to access it.
[Courtesy: The Tribune. Edited for sikhchic.com]
May 27, 2016
Conversation about this article
1: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), May 27, 2016, 2:06 PM.
I don't know how to thank sikhchic.com sufficiently for searching and giving prominence to such nuggets, the likes of Rajinder Parsad Singh who has turned his autism into impeccable artwork. This is how Waheguru works.