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.