A sublime portrayal of holy cities on canvas

Spirituality on ghats

Watercolour has been the muse of only a few select artists in India thanks to the difficulty of dealing with this medium.

 Yet, the ethereal effect that this medium produces on paper can bring alive any landscape, person or object the way, probably, no other artistic medium can.

This is the strength of watercolour, once again, underlined by a brilliant artist Saranjit Singh who is now displaying his works under the title ‘The Ghats of the Sacred River’. This exhibition is inspired by towns situated on the banks of holy rivers: the festivals, religious rituals and daily life of a common man there. For a spiritual tour of the many holy cities of India, from a gallery right here in Delhi, visit ‘The Ghats of the Sacred River’ at Beanstalk, Hotel Galaxy, Gurgaon.

Fifty-six-year-old Saranjit Singh, who hails from Pathankot in Punjab, has been a prolific artist all through his life. He is also well-known for putting in several years of thorough research into the subjects that he decides to depict on his canvas. His recently exhibited series of portraits of Guru Gobind Singh were a culmination of a seven year study of the Sikh scriptures and the writings of the 10th Sikh Guru. For this he travelled to Paonta Sahib in Himachal Pradesh, spoke to scholars and meditated there for many years. Saranjit has also travelled extensively in Rajasthan and captured Shekhawati havelis of the stately state on his canvas.

He says, “I always visit the places that I portray in my paintings. Every place has an aura to it. You can feel the energy and historicity of the place and become one with it when you are there in person. For ‘The Ghats of the Sacred River’ too, I travelled to Mathura, Vrindavan, Varanasi and Maheshwar near Indore in MP.”

“Each of these holy sites has a unique character. While Mathura and Vrindavan were the play grounds of Krishna and have several temples dedicated to him, Varanasi as the oldest continuously inhabited city of the world has several old havelis and an air of antiquity and spirituality. Maheshwar, on the other hand, has the majestic Ahilya Bai Fort.”

Saranjit has assimilated various elements of these sites in his beautiful, semi-realistic paintings. So a portrayal of Vrindavan shows temples and havelis in their fine architectural detail melting into a purple-tinged background that also shows a gaurang (a Krishna devotee) lost in an other-worldly spiritual rumination.  

Another orange-hued painting, that seems to represent many spiritual sites at the same time, has two fakirs with chimta (tongs) in their raised hands singing away to glory. A turbaned holy man, sharing canvas space with them, plays the ektara.Saranjit says, “Watercolours afford us this beauty and seamless assimilation of various elements on paper.

The colours quickly absorb on paper and produce an awe-inspiring sublime effect possible only in this medium. My favourite subjects are completely suited to watercolours and so is my meditative temperament.”Catch this exhibition from 11 am to 11 pm. It is on till August 20.

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