Publication: The Tribune LIFE+STYLE
By Amarjot Kaur
World-renowned artist Shiv Singh might have left us, but he lives on in the sculptures that he created, the scenes that he painted, and in the memories of his contemporaries...
You have probably spared more than just your attention to Shiv Singh’s works, a few of which are installed at one of the busiest haunts of Chandigarh—Stop N’ Stare at the geri route.
The sharp perspective that weaves the sensibilities of modern art, encapsulating the essence of both the East and West, Shiv Singh’s artistic calibre compliments the soul of this city and though he is not among us anymore, his legacy breathes through the body of works that immortalise him forever. Singh, 77, was suffering from cancer, and he died of a heart attack on Friday morning.
A painter and designer, but primarily a sculptor, Shiv Singh was born in Hoshiarpur in 1938 and studied at the Punjab College of Arts, first in Shimla and then in Chandigarh. In 1967 he was invited to participate in the Second National Sculptors’ Camp, Delhi post which, in 1968, the German Government offered him a scholarship in advanced studies and research in art for three years in Germany. Singh has exhibited several times in Europe and has been the member of the National Lalit Kala Akademi and he was the founder member of the Panjab Lalit Kala Akademi, Chandigarh, where he arranged two exhibitions of Chandigarh artists at the Govt Museum to raise funds; first for the Kargil Heroes National Fund and Tsunami Tragedy Fund.
Impersonating the artist
The city has lost the most iconic artist, who helmed beautifully the sensibilities of the East and west. I think if you are in the city and even remotely associated with art, there is no way you could have missed Shiv Singh. He was the youngest artists to have gone to Germany and he came back with a more sharpened perspective on art. Shiv, apart from paintings and sculptures was also really interested in other forms of art, like music, dance and poetry.
I have always been fascinated with Shiv’s dressing sense, so once when I made dolls, one of which was that of Shiv Singh’s and it is the cutest doll I have. Also, I remember, when my daughter was three and she had to go for a fancy dress competition, I made her dress up like Shiv Singh and though she did not win a prize, but Shiv Singh was really happy with it! —Nirupama Dutt, art critic and author
Part of cityscape
Shiv Singh was one of the most famous artists not only in the city, but all over the country. When he came from Germany and started working, he brought along with him the sensibility and technique of contemporary art, especially when it comes to sculpting. Not only was he experimenting with new material like iron, but he was also the only artist in the city, at that time, with his own studio. He has always been very dedicated to his work and was the integral part of artistic scene in the city. —Diwan Manna, chairperson, Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi
Forms that sing
Today at 10 am I got a call from my artist friend Malkit Singh informing me about the death of Sculptor Shiv Singh. It was hard to believe that he is no more. The loss is immense especially when you had such a long association spanning a period of about five decades. His is a big loss to the world of art. Shiv Singh enlivened and enriched the art scene of Punjab through his creative conceptual convictions for more than 50 years. He will be remembered for his meticulous sculptures in wood and metal which over the decades have attained a distinct identity in the world of art. His inspiration was rooted in nature. The people will continue to observe in his work the style and skill, rhythm and movement, force and strength, grace and beauty, pleasure and presence that they normally experience through their encounters with nature and its myriad moods and manifestations. His lyrical voice will always be heard in his sculptures. —Prem Singh, artist
Architect of modern art
I have studied with Shiv Singh in 1962 and back in the college most of the senior artists would take junior artists under their wing to guide them and I was one of the four people Shiv Singh chose to mentor. We would stay together in the hostel and I learnt so much from him. In Punjab, Shiv was the third person to start with modern art, only after Chitarkaar Ajaib Singh and Sohan Qadri. In 1988 when he went to Germany on a scholarship, he got along with himself the sensibility of modern art. Also, we went to Japan, Tokyo, for a workshop where we worked together on exploring nature, which was our theme. —Malkit Singh, artist
In the memory lane
A pall of sadness descends when one hears of news like this. And one’s mind begins to travel way back into the past—how often one used to meet him in the circle of Dr Mulk Raj Anand’s favourite artists; how nice it was to continue an association with him in Germany where I was teaching and where he and Gisella, his wife, lived at that time; how and when I wrote the first among the many pieces on his work for The Tribune; how vital, and visible, a part he was of the art scene of Chandigarh. In his passing away, one has lost an artist of imagination and great, untiring, energy. —BN Goswamy, art historian and author
Singh’s prominent artworks can be seen at National Gallery of Modern Art, Delhi, National Academy of Art (Lalit Kala Akademi) Delhi, Chandigarh Museum, Punjab University Museum, State Museum, Shimla; Hack Museum, Ludiwiqshaften, Glaub Art Museum, Koln (Germany), Haryana State Tourism (Tourist Resort), Rohtak Complex, and at Punjab Bhawan, Chandigarh. While in the city, a number of his sculptures have been installed in Chandigarh Lake Club, Topiary Park, Round-about of Sector 20-34, Leisure Valley Sector 10, Fountain Sculpture at Markfed Sector 35, and Steel Sculpture (Dance Form) at Punjab Arts Council, Rose Garden Chandigarh.