Sidharth (Painter)

was conferred with

Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi Sanmaan

Instituted by

Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi

by Shri Atul Dodiya, well known artist

at  Punjab Kala Bhawan

Sector 16 B, Chandigarh

on 5th April 2019

Sidharth could not come to receive the Sanmaan personally due to a family member being critically unwell.

Painter, writer, film-maker, researcher, mystic: Sidharth’s persona is multi-dimensional as is his art, with an intense spirituality forming the core of his creations.

“Not a single day I remember when I was not painting. That is being in constant meditation within and outward”, says he. From beginning life in 1956 in Raikot in Punjab as Harjinder Singh in a Sikh family, to the transformative experience of becoming Sidharth on adopting Buddhism, his growth as an artist has been in sync with his spiritual forays into readings of Guru Granth Sahib, Zen, Sufism and Tibetan Buddhism. Life near Hari –ka- Pattan (Harike wetlands) in his mother’s care and reflective observations of traditional haveli painters creating  murals and friezes that pictorially narrated the ‘janam sakhis’(life stories) of the Sikh Gurus, became his inspirational models. A master craftsman and mason, Tara, was one of his first teachers. He began painting signboards while still at school, using organic materials to make colours and create his own artworks.

A journey to Dharamsala set the tone for the spiritual core of his art. He spent six  transformative years there, meditating on the tenets of Buddhism  and learning Thangka painting from Tibetan monks.

After that he enrolled as a student at the College of Art in Chandigarh, from where he graduated in 1981. He also joined a group of painters called ‘Solids’ and held an exhibition of his ‘White Space’ series. This brought him the Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi Award, which he went on to win twice more.

A move to Delhi in 1982 led to work in an ad agency as a visualiser. Later he joined Lalit Kala Akademi’s Graphics workshop at Community studios, Garhi, New Delhi where he did lithographs of bus-stand figures. In 1984 a stint at the Crafts Museum at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, as exhibition officer brought in new learnings from master craftsmen from across the country and also resulted in his making a film on Sitadevi, a master Madhubani painter. Over the next few years he travelled throughout India and made 15 films on Ancient Indian Temple architecture, sculpture and paintings.

Wanderlust took him to Sweden where he studied western artistic traditions as reflected in the canvases, frescoes and windows of churches and museums and learnt various techniques and skills, including that of glass blowing.

Longing for the sights and sounds of his homeland brought him back to India where he began to explore  its rich heritage: Madhubani paintings, Kashmiri papier mache and other South Asian arts and crafts. He also experimented with photography.

His ventures into writing brought forth ‘NetiNeti’, a series of short stories titled ‘Celestial Beings’ and detailed studies on mineral and plant pigments.

He has held 27 solo shows, participated in 365 group shows in India, UK, Sweden and USA since 1976 and most major Art fairs since 1999.  His works are in the collection of Government Museum and Art Gallery Chandigarh; National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi; British Council, Delhi; Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi; the British, Mexican and Swedish Ambassadors; the Düsseldorf Museum; Heda, Sweden and several industrial groups in India and abroad.

Sidharth has held residencies in UK and Bhopal and has been conferred an honorary D. Lit. by Punjabi University, Patiala. A film by Mr. K. Bikram Singh titled ‘A Painter, Sidharth: In Search of Colours’ , sponsored by PSBT India, documents his life and philosophy. He believes in the power of color and distrusts consumerist society’s  dissociation from source materials. “I have to search for my own colors, understand their origin, and know the process of their manufacture. I have to establish intimacy and contact with my primary material”, he explains. “Colors talk to me and they appear with different forms, they bring other elements to tell a story which then evolves into a painting!”

Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi feels honoured in conferring the Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi Sanmaan upon Shri Sidharth.