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Above: detail from Sobha Singh's "Sohni Mahiwal".


Languishing Sobha Singh Paintings To Be Restored





The portraits of Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh, of Punjab's poets and heroes, its myths and legends, all creations of the celebrated artist Sobha Singh, have been withering away in a Himachal Pradesh gallery in India.

But this has caught the attention of international experts who are coming to the Sobha Singh Museum in Andretta village, near Palampur in the Kangra Valley, later this month to restore and preserve them.

Two art restorers from Britain will be visiting the museum to critically inspect and restore some of the works, said Hriday Paul Singh, general secretary of the Sobha Singh Memorial Art Society and in-charge of the museum.

Ian Barrand, a restorer who works at a prestigious museum in Yorkshire, and artist Bhajan Hunjan will assess and advise on what needs to be put in place for future longevity of Sobha Singh's lifetime works, he added.

According to him, some cracks have appeared in six portraits. During their two-week stay, they will carry out some restoration work, he added.

Museum caretakers attributed high rainfall in the region for damage to the artefacts.

"Excessive moisture and exposure to dust has damaged the paintings," a caretaker said.

More than 50 classic paintings on various themes like heroes and freedom fighters, religious figures, romantic tales, portraits and local folk art are on display in the gallery, some 250 km. from Shimla, where Sobha Singh spent 38 years of his life.

Sobha Singh, who was conferred the Padma Shri in 1983, achieved acclaim for his strikingly beautiful paintings, particularly after he made the portrait of Guru Nanak in 1969.

He died in Chandigarh on August 22, 1986, at the age of 85, leaving more than 2,000 works of his art behind.


March 9, 2012

Conversation about this article

1: Pritam Singh Grewal (Canada), March 09, 2012, 10:38 PM.

During my posting at Govt. Higher Secondry School, Rajpur (Palampur), I had interesting opportunities to visit the nearby studio of the well-known artist, S. Sobha Singh. I found him to be not only well-read but also a funny person brimming with timely and lively jokes. I thank him for introducing me to the inimitable writings of Khalil Gibran, the celebrated author of "The Prophet". During my 2010 trip to Palampur, I again visited his place in Andretta where his daughter Gurcharan Kaur ji showed us some of his rare, original works. They must not be left to languish. They deserve urgent restoration as our invaluable treasure.

2: Raj (Canada), March 09, 2012, 10:50 PM.

I visited the gallery in Andretta exactly two years ago. Unfortunately, the gallery is nowhere close to what I had envisioned. The paintings are cluttered up in the artist's studio. Multiple walls or climate controlled environment are unheard off. I understand that the studio needs to be kept in the state of 'work in progress' to show it as it was when Sobha Singh ji was alive, but why not have gallery in a separate area?

3: Pritam Singh Grewal (Canada), March 10, 2012, 6:52 AM.

I also want to mention that an outer wall of Sobha Singh's gallery bore the words, 'Grow More Good', instead of the then popular slogan, 'Grow More Food.'

4: Navalpreet Singh Rangi  (Toronto, Ontario, Canada ), March 10, 2012, 9:27 AM.

Documentary film on Sobha Singh's life:

5: Michele Loock Golden  (Fréjus, France), May 09, 2012, 2:42 AM.

I loved the master's work and writings which gave me as a westerner humble artist, at last an authentic much needed overview of an artist's life and true role in a society. We in the west have lost this element. I'd like to help, to learn, to attend a painting workshop. I love that area, and have some friends there.

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