The State of Art

Artist Paramjit Singh talks about the sorry state of art ed­u­ca­tion in this coun­try.

India Today - - FEATURE - _ By Sukant Deepak

We set the premise. Let us not talk only about his art, af­ter all so much has been writ­ten about this 82-year-old ma­jor con­tem­po­rary artist, Paramjit Singh, who was in Chandi­garh in April on the in­vi­ta­tion of Pun­jab Lalit Kala Akademi. Born in Am­rit­sar and now re­sid­ing in Delhi, the artist has held ex­hi­bi­tions of his breath­tak­ing land­scapes around the world—art pieces in which na­ture has been in­vented and its essence in­tro­duced on can­vas.

We want to talk about his process of cre­ation. He says that a process can never be created. That it de­vel­ops, af­ter rig­or­ous train­ing. “It’s never about the tech­nique, but al­low­ing the mind to be re­cep­tive to ev­ery­thing around—still life, move­ments, sen­sa­tions, the gust of wind, that pe­cu­liar si­lence be­fore the snow.”

Mar­ried to painter Ar­pita Singh for 60 years now, when asked if it has been easy hav­ing a fel­low artist as wife he replies, “But we are very dif­fer­ent. As artists too, be­sides our re­li­gion, eth­nic and lan­guage dis­sim­i­lar­i­ties. My mind has de­vel­oped in a very folk style, while she has a strong in­tel­lect. I be­came a painter by ob­serv­ing and she by read­ing and re­act­ing. And yes, Ar­pita is a bet­ter-known painter than me.”

Singh, who com­pleted his Bach­e­lors in Fine Arts from Delhi Polytech­nic in 1958 and was a Pro­fes­sor of Fine Arts at Jamia Mil­lia Is­lamia in the cap­i­tal city, re­fuses to go to art col­leges even as an ex­am­iner any more. “The state of art ed­u­ca­tion in

It’s never about the tech­nique, but al­low­ing the mind to be re­cep­tive to ev­ery­thing around you.

this coun­try is pa­thetic. No one is in­ter­ested in find­ing him­self, only at­tack­ing the other,” says the artist, who is busy mak­ing small draw­ing with char­coal nowa­days.

Talk to him about the con­tem­po­rary art scene in In­dia, es­pe­cially when in­stal­la­tions seem to be on a strong foot­ing, and the painter points out, “What I see is plas­tic­ity of art. The vis­ual charm has less­ened. Of course, in­stal­la­tions do arouse in­ter­est but in the ex­ter­nal and in­ter­nal In­dian land­scape they can’t hold in­ter­est for long.”

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