KIRPĀL SIṄGH, ARTIST (1923-1990), the creator of Sikh history in colour, was born the son of Bhagat Siṅgh and Har Kaur in a small village Vāṛā Chain Siṅghvālā in Fīrozpur district of the Punjab on 10 December 1923. He inherited interest in art from his father who was adept in woodwork engraving, and his practical training started with drawing rough sketches in his school notebooks. He was obliged to discontinue his school studies owing to lack of means. He was forced to take up a smalltime appointment in the military accounts department where he served from 1942 to 1947. After the partition of India (1947), Kirpāl Siṅgh moved to Jalandhar. He gave up his service and decided to adopt painting as a career. In 1952 he shifted to Delhi for some time and then settled in a small town, Indrī, near Karnāl. The first exhibition of his paintings was held in Dyāl Siṅgh College, Karnāl, on 26 June 1955. In the following year the Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee, Amritsar, employed him as an artist to produce exhibits for the Central Sikh Museum in the Darbār Sāhib complex. He resigned this job in 1962 and went again to Delhi from where, after a few years, the late Dr Mohinder Siṅgh Randhāwā, himself a great lover and connoisseur of art, persuaded him to come to Chaṇḍīgaṛh where he settled down permanently. This turned out to be the most creative period of his career. Kirpāl Siṅgh died in an accident on 26 April 1990.
Kirpāl Siṅgh painted hundreds of pictures, portaits and landscapes, but his particular interest and specialization was in capturing on the canvas episodes from Sikh history including awe inspiring scenes of ultimate sacrifice by Sikh martyrs and realistic portrayal of battle scenes. Some of his original works now adorning various museums, institutions, gurdwārās and private homes in India and abroad are displayed in Central Sikh Museum (36), Sardār Baghel Siṅgh Museum in Gurdwārā Baṅglā Sāhib, New Delhi (21), Anglo-Sikh War Memorial, Ferozeshāh near Fīrozpur (11), Sikh Regimental Centre, Rāmpur, Rāñchī (12), Takht Srī Paṭnā Sāhib (8), Takht Srī Kesgaṛh Sāhib, Anandpur (8), Punjabi University, Patiala (18), Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiāṇā, (18), Chaṇḍigaṛh Art Gallery (1) and Gurdwārā Mahidiāṇā Sāhib, Jagrāoṅ, district Ludhiāṇā (20).
Major Gurmukh Siṅgh (Retd.)