“WAY BACK in 2013, the day the Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi honoured 10 artists, who had contributed significantly to the region’s art, I was very much elated and felt flattered. I was one of the recipients of the honour. My happiness was not because of my humble art contributions, but for the fact that I was clubbed with art luminaries as tall as Nek Chand and Dr B N Goswamy,” recalls Malkit Singh, a well-known artist from Chandigarh.
Malkit Singh, 75, has always been an admirer of Nek Chand’s Rock Garden, an unmatched artistic creation which is famous all over the globe. In fact, Malkit Singh, a Chandigarh resident since the early sixties, has been a witness to the slow, but solid growth of the famed garden. While Malkit Singh, who lives and works in Sector 48, Chandigarh, is well known in the local art world, one thing that is not known about him is his farsightedness.
For, he has been collecting works of art of young and budding artists for over 50 years now. No wonder, he has with him quite a number of art works of many local artists, some of whom now command high price and prestige in a wider international art world/market. Malkit’s enviable collection ranges from the works of Nek Chand to those of Ranbir Kaleka, Raj Jain, R S Rania, Viren Tanwar, Shiv Singh, Prem Singh, Raj Kumar, Braham Parkash, Diwan Manna, Jagdish Lal Ahuja and Charnjit Matharu.
While all the above mentioned names and their works have their distinctive importance, Malkit Singh has a special regard for Nek Chand’s small statues and a baked clay ‘maala’! He considers Nek Chand as a jewel in the crowning artistic glory of the City Beautiful! Maybe because he feels that though many city artists, have over the years, gained quite high artistic stature in the art world, none perhaps can match the stellar heights that Nek Chand achieved.
“Conceptualising and realising single-handedly such a monumental art creation, that, too, without having any allurement for getting any returns or rewards, except self-satisfaction, is both unthinkable and highly admirable,” says Malkit. The writer is former principal, Government College, Sector 11, Chandigarh