Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Gateway to Sikhism


G S Sohan: Artist

G.S. Sohan Singh was born in August 1914, in the house of Bhai Gian Singh, the Famous Fresco-Artist of the Golden Temple, Amritsar. He had his schooling upto the Middle Standard in the Government High School, Amritsar. Later he was apprenticed with the well-known Artist S. Hari Singh who had at that time been working in the famous Elphinston Theatrical Company, Calcutta. Later, in about 1931-32 on the winding up of the company, the master and the pupil both came back to Amritsar. The well-known artists of India were also working in the same company in those days.

The Artists father had by that time retired from his service in the Golden Temple, and both father and son started painting religious themes, preparing charts for students as well as framing pictures. Thus the wheel of life started moving slowly but surely on the road to Art.

The first multi-coloured design that was got printed and marketed by the Artist in 1932 was that of the un-daunted hero Baba Banda Singh Bahadur (Sikh Warrior). Encouraged by its popularity, the Artist prepared about three new designs every year, got their blocks prepared at Lahore, printed them and marketed them. The standard of the Artists workmanship was generally more than compatible with the other religious pictures in the market, and this brought his name G. S. Sohan Singh into limelight in the Art World, and he started getting assignments frequently. From 1931 to 1946, he was doing his Art Work, framing pictures, selling glass, Indian and Foreign reproductions in bulk as well as in retail.
During and after the partition days with resultant riots the above activities ceased. The artist started getting commissions from the Vernacular papers Ajit and Vir Bharat (of Lahore) and Sher Bharat of Amritsar and other periodicals, apart from labels and designs for boxes from the industrial sector.

After the death of Artists mother (1951) and father (30-09-1953) however, with the selfless help and guidance of P. Verma, it was possible to publish the book Gian Chitravali by name in 1956, as a commemoration to the Artists late father. This afforded the Artist an opportunity of gaining proficiency in the block line. This technique has been passed on by him to his son Mr. Surinder Singh, who ranks among experts in line blocks, Monochrome and Tri-colour Halftone blocks, Photography etc.

The Artist, since 1931 tackled multifarious subjects in the Art field e.g. Calendar designs, Oil and Water colour paintings, Commercial Labels, Book Jackets designs, subject illustrations designs, Newspaper Adv. Designs apart from very fine themes in the old Kangra Style, Pahari and Mughal Styles as well as in the techniques connected with the Sikh School of Painting founded by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. He has also successfully carried out assignments in Landscape painting, Indian Monuments, Portraits and Imaginative subjects.

He has to his credit dozens of gold and silver medals, cash prizes as well as commendation certificates as won by him in a number of Art Exhibitions held from time to time through out the Country. In April 1968, on the occasion of conferring on Punjabi the distinction of State language for this region, the Artist as duly awarded.

For a number of years, he continued as a member and a life member of governing body of The Indian Academy of Fine Arts and acted as a judge for the grant of awards on selected exhibits.

A number of young aspirants had been regularly and casually approaching him for training in the art line and have been successful. He was running a regular studio, which is now situated at 27-Braham Buta Market, near Sarai Guru Ram Dass, Amritsar (Punjab), INDIA. The Artist has got three sons and two daughters. His eldest son Mr. Surinder Singh is a Block Engineer and Graphic Artist, his second son Mr. Jaspal Singh is carrying on electrical business while the third son Mr. Satpal Danish follows in the footsteps of his father in the Art line, with good promise. The third generation-his grandsons are Harpreet Pal Singh (M.Com.) and Hardeep Singh (M.Sc.) have been preserving his Artwork and running website. Third grandson Rajinderpal Singh is running his own business in Amritsar.

The Artist has published the following books:
(1) Gian Chitravali
(2) Amritsar  The Sacred City of the Sikhs (on the Gurudwaras and Temples of Amritsar)
(3) Holy Places of Pilgrimage (also on the Gurudwaras)
(4) Revealing the Art of G.S. Sohan Singh

S. Sohan Singh had been in the Art line for more than half a century. He always preferred quality to quantity and it has always been his endeavour to achieve higher and higher standards in the sphere of Art.

In this age of changing trends, propaganda and party factions, individual capable of canvassing, even though othe5wise mediocres succeed in making headway to the fore-front. It is perhaps on this account that S. Sohan Singh, a quiet, sincere and devoted Artist never found favour with any party worth the name, which could afford him the well-deserved patronage which was rightfully due to him. He had throughout his long carrier been offering fresh and further fresh flowers of his creations at the alter of the Muse. The Artist breathed his last on 28-02-1999 at the ripe age of 84 years.


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The etymology of the term 'gurdwara' is from the words 'Gur (ਗੁਰ)' (a reference to the Sikh Gurus) and 'Dwara (ਦੁਆਰਾ)' (gateway in Gurmukhi), together meaning 'the gateway through which the Guru could be reached'. Thereafter, all Sikh places of worship came to be known as gurdwaras.
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