The vibrant colours in Bahadur Singh’s paintings speak of his intense connection with nature and his understanding of its elusiveness. Weaving together dark and light shades with the play of light and shadow, his art leaves an unforgettable impression and brings us under the spell of nature. Bahadur sees art as an indivisible part of his spectrum of expression. Regardless of whether his paintings find takers or not, he believes it is his life’s mission to dedicate himself to art. His works have found a home in places ranging from the Prime Minister’s home in India to private collections in countries such as USA, UK, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Denmark. Artflute’s Sridevi Padmanabhan caught up with this self-effacing artist to talk about all things art.
Looking back at your trajectory as an artist, how would you say your work has developed?
While I do enjoy looking at the artworks I created years ago, I sense an absence of peace and happiness in it. The art I make these days gives me peace and happiness. It gives me a sense of immense possibilities and as time has passed the recognition my work has received has increased. My artworks receive a lot of appreciation from people in India and abroad.
What inspires you? Where do you find ideas for your work?
Nature has been a consistent theme in my paintings. It is ever-changing and always fascinating. I never draw nature in the sharp definition because it is never static. Elusive, fleeting and mysterious- that’s how nature always is. My paintings try to capture this quality of nature and its sense of movement. Since I stay in Haryana, I am surrounded by nature and continue to be hugely inspired by its many faces.
Are there any artists you admire?
I love the work of artists from bygone eras. Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Michelangelo are the ones who have inspired me the most.
What was the first artwork you sold? How did it make you feel?
I was just a young art student in my third year of art studies, still experimenting with my artistic style when a group of Danish visitors came to the college. They saw my work and one of my nature-themed paintings in particular titled ‘Myself With Nature’ and instantly decided that they wanted to own it. They insisted on taking the painting back with them on the same day and asked me to have it ready. The thrill I felt on having a painting of mine find a place outside the country when I hadn’t stepped out of the country myself and having a paying customer come right into my college to buy it from me is indescribable.
Have you ever had a period of being creatively blocked? How did you work through it?
Before 2005, every time I painted nature, it was in a single colour– green. No matter how much I tried to change it, the colour stuck. There was also a sense of sadness in it. Even when I attempted to use other colours such as white, it ended up being green on the canvas. It was as if it was impossible for me to use other colours and I was stuck. Taking a break from painting, I didn’t touch canvas or paints for almost two years. Occasionally I would go to exhibitions and see the work of other artists. It was after this long break that I very organically stopped using green. If you see my paintings now you will notice that there are very few hints of green. My colour scheme has completely changed and I delight in using bold and dynamic colours.
What is the most challenging aspect of being an artist?
I believe that it is very important for artists to have patience. However, this isn’t challenging but a very normal aspect of this profession. In fact, for the first 10-12 years, artists shouldn’t expect their work to be recognised. Since this is a period when you’re just starting out, the focus needs to be on finding your unique way of expressing yourself on canvas.
What can we look forward to from you next?
I am working on a series called ‘Seasons’ and plan to hold a solo exhibition in Delhi.