Thursday, October 06, 2005

Divine Painter

In the early eighties I travelled around India, Nepal and Pakistan over a period of around 9 months. I was fortunate to meet Sobha Singh the great artist at his residence in Andretta. This is a picture of him I took using the Pentax SLR camera I had with me then.

In my naivety I even asked whether he would teach me to paint! To my surprise he agreed, suggesting that I make arrangements to stay in a cottage nearby. But alas it was not to be, because for one I do not have the gift to be a painter and secondly, time and money were tight.

Born on 29 November 1901 Sobha Singh learnt and mastered painting by self practice. Later he joined the British India army as a draughtsman and was posted at various places in Iraq. He studied European Paintings and got inspiration from the works of English painters.

In 1923 he left army and worked from his studios at Amritsar, Lahore (1926) and Delhi (1931). At Delhi, Sobha Singh got the opportunity to participate in art exhibitions and won several award and medals. Portrait painting was his forte.

In 1946 Sobha Singh went back to Lahore but was forced to leave due to events (partition of India). He settled in Andretta, a picturesque village in the lap of Himalayas and stayed here till his last.

During his 38 year stay at Andretta, Sobha Singh painted hundreds of paintings, his main focus being the Sikh Gurus, their life and work. He also painted impressive portraits of national heroes and leaders like Shaheed Bhagat Singh and Lal Bahadur Shastri.

Sobha Singh's painting of Sohni Mahiwal, one of the most popular love legends of Punjab gave him enormous fame. He got several awards and was felicitated by several organizations. He was honoured with Padamshree, one of the National awards by President of India.

The great painter passed away on 22 August 1986.

Pictures courtesy of


ਿੲਕ ਿਸੰਘ said...

can the last piece be bought (originals)? or the 3rd from the bottom?

thank you for the hotel tip on project gurmukhi blog. now we're trying to see somehow to catch the air india flight from birmingham to amritsar...i can't believe they would have it from birmingham and not london...whatever that means...

msingh said...

isingh ji I haven't inquired, but there's a shop in Southall who I believe would have these prints, but as you're going to India why not purchase there (probably a lot cheaper). The site gives the following dealer addreses

195-C, B.R.S. Nagar
Ludhiana, Punjab, INDIA
Ph : 0091-161-2460972, 0091-94171-22997
email :

41, Clock Tower Market,
Amritsar, Punjab, INDIA
Ph : 0091-183-2545220

Old Railway Road, JALLANDHAR, Punjab, INDIA
Ph : 0091-181-2226936

Oh, another tip - rather than using you mobile there, it's best to take an old unlocked one with you and buy a prepaid sim card while in India.

Hope your trip goes well.


msingh said...

Sorry, didn't realise you're after the originals. I doubt if they are available for purchase, but it's worth investigating.


Gurpreet.Kaur said...

how do you write in punjabi on blogs?

msingh said...

gurpreet.kaur I'm going to put up info in my next post, should be within the next 30 miniutes.


Sikhi Seeker said...

Thank you so much for sharing about Sobha Singh. I have heard about him (I'm sure) in context of the Sohni Mahiwal portrait. But I never took the initiative to look for more info on him. I, myself, am looking for someone to personally coach me in painting and portraits in Toronto...but in vain:(
Nevertheless I am an artist (if I may say so) and I love Sobha Singh's work....very inspiring. Thanks again for sharing :D

msingh said...

gurpreet.kaur it took a bit longerthan 30 miniutes, but the info is now up, hope it helps. I reckon isingh knows a thing or two about this subject.

sikhiseeker I can only envy people who have the gift of art or music. But all is not lost, I can always listen and admire. Why not photograph some of your paintings and put up on you blog?


Anonymous said...

ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ :)

Sikhi Seeker said...

Oh my work is far from getting people envious..ha. I used to paint 5-7 yrs ago and then cuz of several reasons including age, I think my art lacked matter, although displayed more innocence, if i look back :P. That's why I am desperately looking for someone to teach me better now. Moreover I used only the water colour medium....hoping to learn the more professional oil medium now. But thanks for asking...maybe some fine day...soon :)

ਿੲਕ ਿਸੰਘ said...

msingh, i have to apologize for not following up sooner but thank you for all the info!

it's really easy to write in punjabi with unicode. there's so much stuff that i have to share, so many people to acknowledge, so much work to complete that i might just hire a staff when i go back to punjab. (we're all volunteer and privately funded.) what's killing me is that there're people out there trying to make money for doing what Sukhjinder and other sikh brothers are trying to do for Gurmukhi.

anyways...thanks for the info about the dealers. have to go to sleep now...

msingh said...

isingh, with refrence to Sobha Singh's original paintings, they are on display at the gallery at his residence in Andretta.


Anonymous said...

have a painting of guru sobha singh............interested in sellin........
mrs singh