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Mera Gobind:
An Art Exhibition by Anup S. Chitrak





Not in chronological order, the artist has simply picked up various episodes of the Guru’s life to highlight the philosophy he followed.

“It is not about a particular religion but a philosophy. Every time with such work, the intent is to propagate and share the great thoughts and ideas of these people,” says Chitrak, an alumnus of Sir J.J. School of Arts, Mumbai, India.

The deep colours don’t drown the flowing figures bearing distinct expressions in each canvas. In the process they are only highlighted. Expressions hold forth especially in the work where Guru Sahib is seen being attended upon by two disciples, the Pathans Nabi Khan and Gani Khan, in the forests of Machhiwara in Punjab, after having successfully resisted the onslaught by Emperor Aurangzeb who had attacked the fortress of Chamkaur Sahib.

In another work, Chitrak plays with his favourite colour blue to create a bewitching effect. The nihangs on horseback are in awe having spotted a falcon in the night. The falcon being Guru Gobind Singh’s pet becomes the metaphor of the Guru.

“I read up a lot of Sikh literature … Guru Granth and a lot of other books but I didn’t take any references from Sikh miniatures because I wanted it to be a unique interpretation. In one work where the imagery has come from a Sikh miniature, it has been converted into a realistic rendition,” says the artist.

Giving an overview of Guru Gobind Singh ji’s life fraught with struggles, Chitrak includes crucial moments like his meeting with his father Guru Teg Bahadar -- who returns from Assam after three and a half years; Guru Sahib getting ready for Guru Gaddi; of him leaving Anandpur; and the Punj Pyaarey.

In a particularly interesting depiction of the latter, Chitrak shows a resolute looking Guru with his falcon while his Punj Pyaarey (The Five Beloved Ones -- the First Five to be initiated as the Khalsa) astride horses move in the background.

Chitrak also represents them as the five elements -- earth, water, fire, air and space -- in their geometrical forms. He is quick to grasp any such opportunity where he is afforded artistic freedom to experiment.

A few pencil sketches are also on display which demonstrate Chitrak’s immense skill in the discipline.

In 1979, Chitrak had illustrated a comic series titled “Dus Guru Sahebaan” (The Ten Masters). These illustrations led him to research further into Sikhism and its philosophy. He started listening to gurbani kirtan every evening and reading books on Sikhism.

One day, he says, while sipping tea on the terrace of his studio he noticed a falcon sitting on the water tank, which ritually visited for the next one week. The falcon is said to be a symbol of the Tenth Master, one with sharp vision and focus. It was the ultimate sign of motivation for Chitrak and thereon he decided to absorb himself whole-heartedly into his next endeavor, “Mera Gobind”.

This collection of paintings is an emotional perspective and vision of the artist. It showcases the journey of Guru Gobind Singh through his eyes. Chitrak completely submerges himself into his work. He has been researching on Guru Gobind Singh intensively for over 5 years.

Incidentally, the exhibition has been timed to coincide with Hola Mohalla, a festival tradition established by Guru Gobind Singh, which also happens to fall in the month of March.

Behind every piece of Chitrak’s creation are numerous sketches, thorough research, inspiring music and true emotion.

The exhibition is on at AIFACS Gallery, Rafi Marg, New Delhi, India, till March 31, 2014

[Courtesy: The Hindu Newspaper, et al. Edited for]
March 28, 2014

Conversation about this article

1: Kaala Singh (Punjab), March 31, 2014, 2:46 PM.

Guru Gobind Singh continues to inspire thinking minds even today. In this "ancient" land with history going back to thousands of years, nobody comes even close. We as Sikhs have inherited a glorious tradition and its our responsibility to keep it alive.

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An Art Exhibition by Anup S. Chitrak"

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