Serbjeet Singh's Magical Mystery Landscapes

Parvati Glen

Acrylic on Canvas



Bill Aitken

The Himalayan Abode of Snow is actually the fiery tongue of the Goddess cooled by 60 million years of weathering. As the highest range in the world and the most worshipped, both by pilgrims and sports persons, this youngest of chains continues to grow - and defy authentic artistic description. The challenge is to map its athletic scale and intuitive mood. The Himalaya is unique in arousing the spiritual flame in us and only an artist with the mountaineering instinct can hope to steal its secrets. The impact of a Serbjeet canvas is akin to the elation felt by a climber who has struggled to achieve the summit. The flip from the bodily agony of everyday existence to the ecstatic realisation of our consciousness potential is achieved by these adventures in the acrylic medium.

Serbjeet had the advantage of growing up in the hills around Chamba, where the steepness of the Ravi gorge astounds as much as the superlative craftsmanship of Brahmaur's medieval art. He explored the Dhaula Dhar and from the sensuous southern images of Raja Sansar Chand's pahari miniatures (with the blue god in divine dalliance with his golden mistress) he followed the Gaddi shepherds over the Pir-Panjal passes into the austere worlds of Lahaul and Ladakh. The stark beauty of the trans-himalaya once it enters the soul bewitches you for life. The contrasting and complementary grandeur of the northern face of the Great Himalaya is a brutal Yab-Yum of tectonic forces frozen in a topographic void, softened by translucent light, bejeweled by turquoise lakes of the Buddha-mind and fused by the therapeutic glow of the still center.

Ramapithecus (the earliest human like being) came late to the Himachal Shivaliks and dates from 14 million years. Serbjeet's prime concern is to record the grand sweep of the range and take an eagle eye view of the whole. But his expeditions have taken him the length of the Himalaya and he has the rare distinction of witnessing the world's highest tank battle (won by India) on the Zoji La in the west as well as watch the Chinese swarm over the Bum la in the east. It is his cartographic genius that provides the elevating overview, and his close study of the varying geological textures of different physiographic regions that lend power to his rockscapes.

Architecture has been called frozen music, and music architecture in the fluid state. The Himalaya is our planet's ultimate work of art, a symphony of structured grandeur fashioned from molten elements. To delineate the dualities of northern and southern faces and indicate the master plan - where Shiva dwells midpoint between the symmetrical embrace of the Indus and Brahmaputra, the muscular expeditioner has to discover his own dynamic interpretation and, above all, honour the scale. Having been hon. librarian of the Himalayan Club with access to many coffee-table portfolios on the Great Range, I find one Serbjeet painting speaks more authentically of the serenely joyous mood of the mountains than mounds of photographs. The latter have their value for discerning climbing routes but a Serbjeet canvas you tend to keep in the puja room. This is food for inner ascents. Although Serbjeet has donned the garb of a sadhu to probe (as Roerich did) the monastic high ground, he remains an earthy Sardar who dotes on his artistic family - as well he might since Shanta and the two boys between them are a storehouse of the Indian artistic heritage. Poetry and drama extend to the landscape, Serbjeet's wizardry is to sit us astride Padma Sambhav's magical tiger and enable us to commune at India's divinest altars.


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