Meet the “Singh twins” who have given the tra­di­tional art of minia­ture paint­ings a modern spin


The Jour­ney: While they were do­ing their grad­u­a­tion in con­tem­po­rary western art and his­tory at the Univer­sity Col­lege of Ch­ester, UK in 1987, the girls faced some pres­sure to mould their style to western art. “Our art teach­ers in the UK tried to get us to fol­low the style of le­gendary Western artists like Pablo Pi­casso and Van Gogh,” says Rabindra. “But we wanted to chal­lenge western prej­u­dices and fol­low our In­dian her­itage in­stead.” In fact, our first trip to In­dia way back in 1980 was a road trip all the way from the UK on a truck!” smiles Am­rit.

The foun­da­tion “We stayed in In­dia for nine months and learnt all about In­dian and Sikh cul­ture. We vis­ited a mu­seum in Delhi and were com­pletely bowled over by the minia­ture paint­ings; we couldn’t be­lieve how hu­man hands could pro­duce some­thing like this. That was when we fell in love with minia­tures.” says Am­rit. “We bought a book on im­pe­rial Mughal minia­tures from Pa­lika Bazaar in Delhi and that be­came our Bi­ble. Once back in the UK, we went to the Vic­to­ria and Al­bert Mu­seum, took pic­tures of all the In­dian minia­tures and at­tempted our own re­vival of this form of art.”

These ex­pe­ri­ences pushed them to learn more about In­dian and Sikh art, and the twins came back home on an IN­TACH (In­dian National Trust For Art and Cul­tural Her­itage) schol­ar­ship to study Sikh art and her­itage. “When we were kids, we would hear peo­ple jok­ingly say that Sikhs have only one cul­ture which is agri­cul­ture. They can’t say that to us any­more, can they?” grins Am­rit.

RA­JWANT Rawat/­di­a­to­day­im­

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