Kids Corner

Above: Arpita Singh


Sikh Painter is Top-Selling Woman Artist in the World:
Sikh Art, Old & New, Attracting International Interest





In one of its most recent art auctions, Christie’s had in its Asian Art section, included a large number of artworks under the rubric, 'Sikh Art’. In this case, this essentially referred to Sikh art generated during colonial times and earlier.

There have been a number of auctions over the past three or four years by leading international auction houses who successfully featured and sold artworks in wash, tempera, pen and ink as well as numerous valuable artefacts.

Christie’s started taking an interest in Sikh Art from last year when it auctioned five art pieces in April and a collection of paintings in October 2012; then again in April this year some artefacts went under the hammer. Last month’s exhibition had 10 interesting artworks, including a splendid painting on ivory of the Golden Temple, enclosed in a gold frame.

Bonham’s has also shown great interest in promoting Sikh artworks. This became apparent when number of such works were included in their auction held in June last year. Earlier, at the Chester Sale in February 2011, Bonhams had sold a splendid painting dating back to the 1800s, around the time of the East India Company. Also in January 2011, another rare painting — a view of the Golden Temple at Amritsar — went on sale.

In recent times, there has also been a move to showcase contemporary Sikh artists.

There's been rowing interest in Sikh pianters such as Arpita Singh, her husband Paramjeet Singh and the ever popular Manjit Singh Bawa.

Arpita’s mural titled Wish Dream, fetched Rs 9.6 crore ($2.24 million) at a Saffronart online auction, making her the world’s top-selling woman artist.

[Incidentally, the proud owners of the masterpiece are the world-renowned art-collecting couple, Japna Kaur and Malvinder Singh of Ranbaxy fame.]

When asked about the central figure of a middle-aged woman in her mural, Arpita is reported as having said, “Glamorous women with hour-glass shapes are for film and television. I paint real women.”

The mural, painted in oils on canvas in 2000-2001, consisted of 16 canvases clubbed together to create a mural 287 x 159 inches in size.

In September 2008, Manjit Singh Bawa's untitled work sold for $362,500 at a Christie's auction in New York. At the time, the artist was in coma and remained so for three months -- unaware of the sale of this particular painting and the many other sales of his works.

Two years later in September 2010, again at Christie’s South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art auction in New York, Manjit Singh Bawa’s beautiful painting Durga, possibly due to a drop in the general drop in art prices, achieved a slightly lower price, selling for $314,000.

We have all read about the royal jewels worn by the Sikh Maharajas of Punjab, that seem to be seen off and on under the auctioner’s hammer in the past. The author hopes that along with jewellery and the other rare artefacts that are periodically up for sale at international auctions, rare paintings of earlier times as well as the works by artists such as Manjit Singh Bawa and Arpita Singh, will somehow find their way back to India some time in the future.


[Courtesy: Financial Chronicle. Edited for]

July 8, 2013

Conversation about this article

1: Heer Kaur (Amritsar, Punjab), July 08, 2013, 12:07 PM.

Arpita Singh's brilliant illustrations in "Hymns of Guru Nanak" a couple of decades ago made it the harbinger of a whole new generation of excellent Sikh children's books. She's always been a trail-blazer.

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Sikh Art, Old & New, Attracting International Interest"

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