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J. P. Singhal

Old Masters

J. P. Singhal (Born in 1934) is one of the most respected artists in the Indian art world. Born in a small village in Northern India he began painting at the tender age of 16 in a culture and society where painting was not considered a valid profession, a mainstay for livelihood. Being greatly gifted, he persevered against all odds and at 18 he founded an art school in his village. As time passed, life brought him to the City of Dreams, Mumbai and hard work helped establish him as one of the most sought after artists of the time.

He painted beautiful realistic paintings that were of photographic quality and his work was widely publishes in all the major calendars of the time. In those days, calendars were the only real art publication in the country and J. P. Singhal fast became a household name. Companies lined up to commission work by him and the waiting list was over two years long. It's been 58 years since this talented man began his journey and to date his work is studied by art students in every art school in the country.

His works covered a variety of subjects from wildlife and landscapes to mythology and decorative, but he is most known for his works of the tribal people of India. India is a land of villages where the language and culture varies every 10kms and he would travel from village to village to interact with and then portray the local people in his unique style.

He was the real man's artist, a popular artist who brought a little bit of the real India into every home in the country. Slowly, he began to use photography to capture the images he saw on his travels to use, as references for detailing like specific ornaments and garments. He became greatly enamored with this new technology and began using it to express himself in ways that would have been too time consuming had he sat down to paint them. Fame is a fickle friend and as they say, one thing leads to another. The same happened to Singhal as his photographs came into the public eye, he began getting offers to design and shoot publicity campaigns for the Indian Film Industry. He did films like Tezaab, Border, Gajja Gamini, Benaras etc. He took to the new technology like a fish to water and became renowned in Bollywood for the ethereal and sublime quality of his photographs. His images were beautiful and different. He had a distinct style, a way of making the subject seem unbelievably beautiful in a heartbreakingly romantic way. This talent made him a trend and it was said that if one wanted to become a star, they went to J. P. Singhal for their photographs. Actors, actresses, directors, producers all flocked around him and he began the second phase of his career, that of the photographer.

Photography naturally led him into graphic designing and digital imaging. His was the first studio in the country to turn completely Mac oriented back in the 80s when people still called it Macintosh. For an illiterate boy from a small village in India, this was indeed an amazing accomplishment. The changing mediums enhanced his creativity and aroused his curiosity. It excited him and he was able to adapt his methods with passing time to express himself in newer ways. He did the publicity design for all of M. F. Husain's movies and through his personal interaction with that great artist


  • Painting by J. P. Singhal