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Remembering Sobha Singh: A Painter of the People



One of the greatest Indian artists of the twentieth-century S.Sobha Singh was a great soul who created masterpieces of immense value and vitality. Though his art focused mainly on the Gurus, Avatars, Prophets, and Saints yet he did the historical paintings of prime ministers like Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi. He was more concerned with the quality of his artistic output than the number of paintings he produced. Another well-known aspect of Sobha Singh’s creative art is that Sobha Singh was a sculptor who sculpted M.S. Randhawa, Prithviraj Kapoor and Amrita Pritam also.


Sardar Sobha Singh was born on 29 November 1901 in a Sikh family in Sri Hargobindpur, Gurdaspur district of Punjab. In Sri Hargobindpur, in the Gurdaspur region of Punjab, a Sikh family welcomed Sardar Sobha Singh into the world on November 29, 1901. Shobha Singh completed a one-year arts and crafts course at a technical industrial school in Amritsar at the age of 15, and then he was hired as a draughtsman by the Indian Army. In 1923, he left the army due to his growing interest in painting after becoming familiar with the local art and culture. After that, in 1926, he established his own studio in Lahore. After the partition of India-Pakistan, he opened the studio at a place named Andreta near Palampur, a small town in Himachal Pradesh and settled here in Kangra Valley. The Shobha Singh Art Gallery is well-known worldwide, attracting visitors from all over the globe.


Sobha Singh was an expert in the western classical oil painting technique. His themes drew inspiration from Sikh religious heritage, Indian epics, and romantic Punjabi folklore. His paintings of the Punjabi couples \’Hir and Ranjha\’ and \’Sohni and Mahinval\’ rose to fame. The impact Sohni Mahinval had on the Punjabi psyche was long-lasting, earning it the title of \”a true masterpiece.\” What gave Sobha Singh the utmost satisfaction was Ills paintings of the Gurus of the Sikh faith. As he put it, “Painting the Gurus is nearest to the ultimate in the evolution of my real self.”

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Sobha Singh opposed depicting human suffering and misery in art. He believed that a painter should only create beautiful works of art, even at the risk of rejection. While discussing human sorrow and suffering, he emphasized, “It is already there, almost everywhere. Is there any need to paint it on paper? I only want to paint beauty and goodness in life, which are getting rarer, day by day. The concept of Satyam, Shivam and Sundaram (Truth, Goodness and Beauty) with me is Sundram, Shivam and Satyam.” Despite using oil paint on canvas as his medium, he managed to capture the lyrical and delicate detail of the Kangra miniature. A recipient of Padma Shri and other coveted awards, he passed away on August 22, 1986 leaving his admirers poor and the posterity richer. Union Ministry of Information & Broadcasting released a documentary film, “Painter of People” to commemorate his 75th birthday. BBC, London also made a documentary on him. He was conferred the degree of D.Lit( honoris causa) by Punjabi University, Patiala.



  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sobha_Singh_(painter)
  2. https://himachalstory.com/famous-himachali/sobha-singh-painter/
  3. http://www.sobhasinghartist.com/life-history.html


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