Singh says that in this series of paintings, he may have taken inspiration from the essence, ensuring that he stayed away from being too literal…writes Sukant Deepak

To observe nature, he does not have to undertake a physical journey. For inspiration, the movement does not have to be necessarily external. He stresses that ideas can come from the most mundane, from the tiniest of places and from things that may appear ‘ordinary’.

Artist Paramjit Singh, known for his landscapes tells that whenever he sees something, the urge is not to paint it immediately but absorb and churn. “I do that to erase the details so that the simplest version is left imprinted on my mind. What comes out on the canvas, recognizable in terms of a landscape is the unseen aspect that escapes the common person’s eyes. Yes, there can be many shades of nature, but I choose to show the ones that I see after an internal churning,” adds Singh, whose latest exhibition ‘Touched by the Sun’ is being presented by Vadehra Art Gallery at Shridharani Gallery Triveni Kala Sangam (on till December 30) in the capital.

Featuring eighteen works rendered in oil on canvas, in ‘Touched by the Sun’, he moves his impressionist vocabulary into the realm of abstraction. He adds, “The conception is not from a single idea. It’s been a slow and timely process. This work started in 2020.”

Singh says that in this series of paintings, he may have taken inspiration from the essence, ensuring that he stayed away from being too literal. “Instead of painting the sky, for example, I have tried to capture the spirit of that landscape and weave it into a story. I have gone extremely close to everything. It’s like you can smell the leaves and the flowers.”

Talk to him about the fact that while books on art may be abundant in English and Hindi, but very few regional languages offer substantial material, and he says, “Precisely why I spent my own money to get my book printed in Punjabi, and also Hindi. I am not sure if it sold well, but I gave a lot of copies to the Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi for distribution.”

Married to fellow artist Arpita Singh, he smiles that while their schedules may be the same and studios close, but their works are quite apart. “However, we do look at each other’s works, appreciate it and crack jokes; but do not really analyze. I really like her art. She is definitely one of the best.”

This former Professor in the Department of Fine Arts at Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi for nearly three decades feels that the quality of teachers at Indian art schools has gone down drastically. “When the teachers are completely ordinary, how do we expect students to develop an insight? And everything is so fast-paced now, computers and all that… I still believe in the old-fashioned way of working on my own. The struggle has ended because there is always a shortcut for quick results. The patterns and all are good but there’s no insight… Of course, many young artists do find their feet and produce good work. Not to mention, art has become such a huge business now, an exceptionally bright artist would not want to become a teacher, right?” Says Singh who still makes it a point to work in his studio every day.

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