Tuesday, July 5, 2022



Senior Artist and master of portraiture Mehar Singh passes away – OBITUARY

New Delhi, Aug 27, 2020 (Yes Punjab News)

Well known artist of portraiture and paintings on Sikh History Sr. Mehar Singh passed away at the age of 91, yesterday 26th August 2020 at 10.15 am at his residence in Delhi.

Mehar Singh served as President of Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi for two terms and also as Vice Chairman, Punjab Arts Council.

He had his house in Chandigarh, where he shifted in late 1980s as well as in Delhi where he studied and worked after partition of the country. Due to deteriorating health his sons took him to Delhi in December 2019.

Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi and Punjab Kala Parishad have expressed condolences at the loss of this fine artist. Akademi has received condolence message from cross sections of society expressing grief at the demise of Sr. Mehar Singh, who was loved and respected by all.

Sr. Mehar Singh’s own portraits and portraits of other personalities made by him are attached with this email.


Sardar Mehar Singh, well known artist of portraiture and Sikh history and former President of Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi, breathed his last at 10.15 am on 26th August 2020 at his house in Delhi at the age of 91.

Born to Sardar Saudagar Singh and Sardarni Mahinder Kaur in Lahore on 1st October 1929 into a house of craftsmen having wood workshop, Mehar Singh studied at DAV College, Lahore and then for some time at Mayo School of Art, Lahore where two of his uncles were teachers, one taya and another Chacha called Pritam Singh, elder and youngers brothers of his father.

At the same time he took apprenticeship under Sardar Sobha Singh, who asked him to choose between formal education and full time apprenticeship. His father, who was not opposed to his learning art, did not want him to leave regular education in college. To please both his father and his Guru, he enrolled himself for evening studies while continuing his full time apprenticeship under Sobha Singh.

He was one of earliest two disciples of Sobha Singh, the other being Amar Singh.

Partition of India into two different countries affected his life also like millions of others who suffered the genocide that ensued.

Sobha Singh had already shifted to Andhretta, Himachal Pradesh. In the initial days of riots that were to devastate the state of Punjab, his family advised Mehar Singh to leave Lahore. When riots did not stop his family members also migrated to India and settled in Puranpur in Uttar Pradesh. Mehar Singh joined them in Puran Pur and later left for Andhretta to be with his Guru, Sardar Sobha Singh.

After learning the art of painting he left Andhretta in search of livelihood. A long period of struggle followed before joining a friend, Brij Bhushan in Delhi, painting calendars for Mehta Art Press which included paintings of Ram Durbar, Hanumaan and other mythological figures at the same time studying art at the Delhi Polytechnic (Now Known as Delhi College of Art) as a student in the evening studies.

He completed his diploma in painting with distinction as a silver medallist. He then joined American Embassy in Delhi where he worked for 13 years making busts of past and present American Presidents including one of Nixon which was appreciated by the President himself in the shape of a signed letter.

He received encouragement and commissions from Dr. M S Randhawa, which he used to fine tune his art and mature into an accomplished artist of portraiture. A portrait of Maharaja Ranjit Singh won him an award and further encouragement by his Guru, Sobha Singh. He made portraits of artists, poets, legendry film personalities and politicians.

Quite a few of the portraits of eminent personalities from the field of art and culture, painted by Sr. Mehar Singh, are displayed in the Portrait Gallery at Punjab Kala Bhawan, Sector 16 B, Chandigarh, including those of Prithvi Raj Kapoor, Dr. M S Randhawa, Sobha Singh, Prem Bhatia among many others.

According to him, ideally he would like to meet his subject for a couple of days and engage in a dialogue to study the mannerism in order to bring authenticity and capture the character of the person whom he was going to portray.

Apart from initial training under the guidance of Sobha Singh his art was also influenced by Rembrandt, Raphael, Andrew Loomis, Howard Pyle and Norman Rockwell.

He received a commission to make a painting of Guru Gobind Singh by S S Anand and further encouragement by Principal Satbir Singh to make paintings of Banda Singh Bahadur, which got him more interested in making paintings of Guru Sahibaans. SGPC, Bank of Punjab, Punjab and Sindh Bank commissioned him to make paintings on Sikh History.

He shifted to Chandigarh in early eighties and continued to live at his house in Sector 44 till the time his health allowed. Due to deteriorating health his sons took him to Delhi in December 2019, where he passed away at his home peacefully.

His only regret was that he could not find even one sincere disciple whom he could train into the art he was having expertize in.

He believed in the power of art to lead a meaningful life, to heal and spread happiness, brotherhood and togetherness. He thought without art human beings would be just mechanical creatures. According to him God was the original creator and he could not take any credit for something which he was recreating.

After an accident about fifteen years ago, he stopped painting but kept on enjoying life in the company of his family and friends. He was equally respected for his humanistic qualities, gentleness and kindness towards other fellow beings.

He lived a life of contentment without having any regrets or expectations.

He is survived by his wife Harjit Kaur, at present living with his sons Kanwaljit Singh and Charanjit Singh, a daughter Amrit Kaur Gill who lives in America. His eldest daughter Parminder Kaur passed away years ago.

He was honoured with the first Sobha Suingh Memorial Award by the Punjab Government and Punjab Kala Rattan by Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi. He was a recipient of AIFACS and YMCA Awards.

He served as President of Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi for two consecutive terms and later as Vice Chairperson of Punjab Kala Prishad.

Sardar Mehar Singh’s mortal remains were put to rest at a crematorium in Delhi on 26th August 2020.

Compiled by Diwan Manna, based upon an article by Kuldip Dhiman, published in the Tribune,in 1998 and inputs from Mehar Singh’s Son Kanwaljit Singh, artist R M Singh and other friends.

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