For over 60 years, Serbjeet Singh defined a new artistic sensibility, one attuned to nature. Whether through painting, cartography, filmmaking or writing — Singh’s love for landscape, especially the Himalayas, defined his genius. Singh’s landscapes, made in relief, combined cartography and art to accurately recreate the mountains he painted.
“He painted ordinary scale maps into 3D works,” says his wife Shanta Serbjeet Singh, explaining that people often thought Singh had the aid of satellite images.
“But it was not so. He often said it was aamad — what God sends. His vision in the work was panoramic, as though someone was flying above the area. He had walked those mountains, from the age of 18 to 36, he walked 2,500 miles,” she says.
His Himalayan panorama series currently has pride of place in the Prime Minister’s office, and several other works are displayed in
government offices such as the Defence Headquarters.
His first feature film, The Avalanche, that has music by Pandit Ravi Shankar and narration by Melville De Mellow, was shot in the Kulu mountains at an altitude of 16,000 ft. His first short film, Operation Zoji La, made with his brother Jasjeet, was shot in 1948 on the war front at the Zoji pass, 11,000 ft. above sea level.
Tonight, in honour of Singh, some excerpts from Zoji La and a 25-minute film, Kashmir: The Untold Story will be screened. “The movie gives an insight into how his paintings and films complemented each other aesthetically,” says Shanta. There’ll also be panel discussion about the artist and his close connection to nature.
Tonight at 7 pm at Stein Auditorium, India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road