Portrait of an unsung artist
Balvinder pays a tribute to Surinder K. Bharadwaj, a prominent artist, who passed away recently.

Surinder K. Bhardwaj
Surinder K. Bhardwaj

Born in 1938 at Lahore, Surinder K. Bhardwaj completed his professional art study from the local college of art known as Punjab School of Arts, at Shimla. Among a number of honours and accolades that he received during his art career of more than four decades is the prestigious National Award the Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, bestowed upon him in 1985.

Settled in the artistically inert Haryana town, Bhiwani, creatively committed Bhardwaj remained in tune with the world of contemporary art both at the regional and national levels and carved out a significant niche for himself in the art world.

A drawing by Surinder K. Bhardwaj
A drawing by Surinder K. Bhardwaj (Pen on paper)

The chief characteristic of Bhardwaj’s creations is a forceful but well-bridled line. The vigorous, measured way in which he often poured liquified colour to weave interesting linear patterns on his canvas often reminded one of the wayside halwai making jalebis. However, unlike jalebis, his patterns would not be repeated and always amazed the viewers. After delineating his peculiar patterns, often in burly blacks, he would add colour to his compositions which were always devoid of a didactic message.

Although Bhardwaj left Shimla long ago, memories of haunting hillscapes never left his mindscape. Even his recent paintings would often remind one of rural hilly settlements as seen from a vantage point.

He had a hearty laugh when once I told him jokingly that the array of pink and white patches that he had developed recently on his body, because of an unfortunate skin disease, remind me of the drafts of his pastoral paintings.

Apart from his well-defined abstract colour-compositions, which he was capable of creating with earnest ease, his black and white figurative drawings, at times rendered deftly on wet paper for achieving special flowing effects, also exhibit a command over his brush. With bold blobs of heavily loaded brush/pen, he would conjure up forms of quite a calligraphic charm and beauty.

Bhardwaj would always be remembered in the local art circle not only for his picturesque paintings, some of which are in the permanent collection of a number of important places and people, but also for his affable personality.