Kuldip Singh, one of the key modernist architects and city planners of India, had a lesser known but major passion, a stark contrast to his iconic and brutalist concrete buildings. Passionate about the art and crafts of South India, Kuldip Singh assembled one of the largest collections of over 350 rare and outstanding examples of South Indian paintings of the Tanjore, Mysuru, Andhra and Kerala schools, built on his extensive travels in the South for over 40 years.
The paintings cover a wide range of idioms and themes “from the domain of gods and goddesses and the sites and stories associated with their worship, to the realm of their human patrons with portraits made of maharajas, priests and ordinary individuals”. Unlike the North Indian tradition of commissioning miniature paintings for pleasure, paintings in the South were meant for temples, mutts and private prayer rooms. And unlike the paintings of the North, comparatively little scholarly work has been done to study them.
All of these paintings were housed in Kuldip Singh’s home-office in Delhi, where he had for a while set up a full-fledged conservation laboratory. ‘The Kuldip Singh Collection of Thanjavur paintings was gifted by him in 2019 to the CSMVS, Mumbai. They will soon be displayed as part of a special exhibition titled, THREE DIMENSIONS OF DIVINITY on the inauguration of the Museum’s Centenary on 10 Jan 2022’.
In this lecture, art historian Anna Dallapiccola, will provide the historical and cultural background to these paintings and will take us through the milieu that saw the emergence of different schools of paintings to help us appreciate what is now a popularly practiced form.
See Kuldip Singh’s interview with Sahapedia on his collection here.
In collaboration with-
Anna L Dallapiccola
Professor Anna L Dallapiccola has a PhD in Indian Art History, a Habilitation (DLitt) from University of Heidelberg, Germany. Formerly Professor of Indian Art at the South Asia Institute of Heidelberg University from 1971 to 1995, she was appointed Honorary Professor at Edinburgh University in 1991, and has regularly lectured at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. From 2000 to 2004, she was Visiting Professor at De Montfort University Leicester. She, along with George Michell and John Fritz, participated in the Vijayanagara Research Project from 1984 to 2001, writing mainly on sculpture and iconography.
Among her publications are South Indian Paintings: A Catalogue of the British Museum Collection (2010); Kalamkari Temple Hangings (2015), a catalogue of the painted temple cloths in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum; Reverse Glass Painting in India (2017); Thanjavur’s Gilded Gods, co-authored with Kuldip Singh and R G Singh (2018); and Lepakshi: Architecture, Sculpture, Painting, co-authored with Brigitte Khan Majlis, George Michell and John Fritz (2019).
At present, she works in India, with Anila Verghese on a research project concerning the art of the Vijayanagara successor states.
A cultural activist, philanthropist and businessman, Ranvir Shah has always had a deep interest in books, art, music and design. In 1998, he founded the Prakriti Foundation, the vision of which was to host events that would play a key role in changing and energising the cultural scene in Chennai. Single-handedly, he has been a catalyst in broadening the cultural spectrum in Chennai and has been responsible for giving the city some of its most memorable events ranging from serious scholarly discourse from seminars, multi-media events, experimental and protest cinema, music festivals and contemporary dance performances.