It is a sad day for the region’s visual art world. Malkit Singh, one of its most lively, generous and giving souls, has stopped pulsating. The family brought him from the hospital on Friday afternoon with the support system, to let Malkit breathe, as per his wishes, his last, at his residence in our housing society in Sector 48, where the artist had been living and painting for the past couple of decades. The system was removed and he breathed his last here and Malkit was then taken to his village Lande in Moga district for the last rites, to be performed on January 20.
I have often been introducing Malkit, in a lighter vein, as my ‘Rab’ (God), for he has been living on the upper floor of my flat. Naturally, we used to meet more than often. I owe my little literary knowledge about Punjabi literature to him alone. Malkit would often read out many interesting and meaningful poems, short stories, essays, from books and periodicals that he was very fond of reading and also offered his insights about the writings. Not so surprisingly, it was through him that I got introduced to many well-known artists and writers of the region.
Born in a sleepy Lande village of Moga district in Punjab in 1942, Malkit worked extremely hard to achieve the artistic heights he achieved in the field of art. After his basic schooling and a brief stint in agriculture, Malkit did his art schooling in Shimla and Chandigarh.
Deeply rooted to the soil of Malwa in Punjab, the down-to-earth and highly sensitive artist remained typically rustic, both in his life and art. Full of warmth and cordiality, Malkit has been a popular host for everyone in the field of arts and literature. His studio-cum-residence here in Sector 48, Chandigarh, has always been a welcome home to many artists and literary figures.
Daljit Ami, an eminent Punjabi writer and filmmaker, summed up his art aptly, “Malkit was a soft-spoken person and rhythm was part even of his walk. Both this softness and rhythm are reflected in his paintings. He has responded to contemporary events and turmoils through his work.”
Malkit worked as an artist in the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, popularly known as PGI, for quite a long period. Due to his forever helping and giving nature, his residence often used to look like a hospital ‘sarai’! No wonder, many visiting patients from his village would address him as ‘doctor sahib’. He truly was a doctor, a nurse and a generous philanthropist, all rolled into one, to all his friends and acquaintances.
This amalgamated humanitarianism was an integral part of his artistic renditions also, soothing yet asking questions; rhythmic yet reminding of bumps; reflective and yet connected to life. This is what Malkit recently said about his art, “Through my art, I visualise and try to represent the intangible forms, feelings and emotions that we live with; natural beauty, haunting harmonies, spiritual sublimity and frail paradoxes.”
Goodbye Malkit Singh. I will miss you heartily, perhaps like every other person whoever came in your contact, even the briefest one.