Singh began his artistic career by becoming an accomplished photographer.
His process of development began as a ‘camera shikari’.
Starting with a box camera, he shot images of flowers, animals,
people and landscapes. Later he picked up more sophisticated
cameras and even made home movies. He could have stopped at that,
given his other interests. But it is characteristic of him that
he did not. Nor was he cut out to be merely an appropriator and
a consumer. He has constantly developed in stature as a participator.
His approach to his art was the same. Beginning
with the pencil sketches, as most people do, he did not stop
at them. He found a teacher at Allahabad who instructed him in
the painstaking process of wash painting and the studied figuration
of Bengal school. To this day the element of romantic symbols
and its dreamy landscapes and figures survive in his work.
“I liked the effect,’ he says, “but it lacked
the spontaniety of expression I was looking for. The distortions
of the figures too were too conventional and stereotyped for
This brought him to the study of oils. His real tryst with paintings
began when it was detected that he had myeloma. He again worked
on portraits of animals around him and a few landscapes, apart
from surrealistic work. His works caught the eye of a connoisseur
of naive art, Harsh Goenka. He was asked by him to participate
in an exhibition in Mumbai for which he did a work he called
“Bombay my foot!” It shows a beggar’s foot
being about to be crushed by a well-heeled one.