By Punya Srivastava
Renowned painter Sidharth, who was specially commissioned by Life Positive to paint the cover of this anniversary issue, talks about his work and vision to Punya Srivastava
Painter, am I? No way, I am not. As a child I was playing, doodling with paints and forms. When I started learning, I thought I was a painter. With worldly success, my mind believed me to be a mighty creator, but now I know that paintings are just imaginative lies, the Maya of the visible invisible,” he muses, adding, “For sure I enjoy the process and thank everybody who pays me for my own enjoyment. And for sure it is great to be an artist.”
A painter who does not consider himself a painter, Sidharth might come across as a maverick to many. Born in 1956 as Harjinder Singh in the vibrant land of Punjab, he was rechristened Sidharth by his guru at his initiation as a lama at the age of 14 when he started learning thangka style of painting. He started painting signboards while still at school. He learned the skilled art of creating murals and friezes from Tara Mistry, a skilled master craftsman of Punjab.
He then went on to get a five-year diploma in painting from the College of Art, Chandigarh. He has held 22 solo shows and has participated in 118 group shows in India, UK, Sweden and USA since 1976. He is also a recipient of various awards for his works. Colors have been his mates since childhood. He started painting with oil, followed by water colors, and then dabbled with sculpting before foraying into tempera and settling down with mineral and vegetable pigments on canvas. “I extract colors from vegetation, fruits, seeds, barks, roots, twigs and flowers. They lend colors to my paintings; many kinds of earth and minerals decorate my canvases. It is all a blessing of Mother Earth. It is not me (who beautifies the paintings), my colors are beautiful. I thank them,” shares Sidharth.
On being asked about his vision of love, he states, “Everybody says ‘I love’. In fact, everybody wants love, everybody asks for love but very few blessed ones (can) give love; that’s why there is no love in this world. This is because beggars are never givers, they are takers and they fight, snatch and cling. That’s why we are living in a troubled world of problems and conflict. Only mothers are natural givers.”
When asked to describe his vision for the painting that has been reproduced on the cover of this issue, Sidharth breaks into a poem, dedicating it to his mother for the simple yet profound way with which she influenced his young mind. “In this painting, I wanted to see my mother, Rukmani,” he says. Some of those lines read as follows:
“So my dear mother
Are you a creator?
She would look at me with
little, dark, black, wet eyes
And laugh away.
Clays of all colors and kinds
Multani, red, yellow
Ochre and Indigo.
Glue from Acacia
I watched ma mix in water
And leave it untouched for days.
Then, different color clays
in separate bowls
with potion of glue
She would crush and mix for days
humming hymns of baba Nanak
I waited impatiently
for the unknown to emerge
Swinging my gaze
from the beautiful bright colors
to a quiet composed ma’s hands.
Holding brush made of cotton and sticks,
to soft hum of her lips
with black twinkling wet eyes
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