Devoted to the work of renowned artist Sobha Singh, the Sobha Singh Art Gallery is situated in Andretta village, which is located 14 kms south of Palampur. Sobha Singh is a veteran painter from the Sikh community and his masterpiece of Guru Nanak (with his one hand raised as if to bestow blessings) has brought him ample of fame.
S.Sobha Singh was born on 29 November, 1901 at Sri Hargobindpur(Gurdaspur), Punjab, and here he learned to draw and sculpt. He learnt and mastered painting by self practice. S.Sobha Singh joined the British Indian Army as draughtsman and was posted at various places in Iraq. He studied European paintings and got inspiration from the works of English painters. In 1923, he left the army and returned to Amritsar where he opened his art studio. In the same year, he married Bibi Inder Kaur on Baisakhi day. He worked from his studio at Amritsar, Lahore (1926) and Delhi (1931). At Delhi, S.Sobha Singh got opportunity to participate in art exhibitions and won awards and medals. Portrait paintings being his forte, he was commissioned for doing portraits of several rulers of Indian states.
In 1946, S.Sobha Singh was back to Lahore and opened his studio at Anarkali and was working as art director for a film when he was forced to leave Lahore due to partition of the country in 1947.He came empty handed to Andretta, a picturesque village in the lap of Himalayas and stayed here till his last.
During his 38 years stay at Andretta, S Sobha Singh painted hundreds of paintings. His main focus was Sikh Gurus, their life and work. His portraiture of Gurus was a manifestation of his devotion to the divine souls. He used to say, “I have painted Gurus to inspire people.” He held Guru Nanak as manifestation of his meditation. He looked upon Guru Gobind Singh as is ‘inspiration incarnate.’ He also painted impressive portraits of national heroes like Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh, Kartar Singh Sarabha, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Mahatma Gandhi, etc. and also painted war heroes of Indian army.
S.Sobha Singh painted Sohni Mehiwal, one of the most popular love legends of Punjab; first time in 1937.This paintings gave him immense fame. It was painted for the fifth time in the year 1978 and is on view at Sobha Singh Art Gallery, Andretta, and Himachal Pradesh, India. S.Sobha Singh also worked on other love tales of Punjab. Heer Ranjha, Sassi-Punnun, Shirin Farhad and Mirza Sahiban are other beautiful paintings. Another fantastic creation is the portrayal of famous Persian poet Omar Khayyam. S.Sobha Singh had perfound regard for the dignity of womanhood. He painted a series of brides representing the folks of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. One of the most liked painting is, “Her Grace the Gaddan.” He has also executed landscapes. He also made some good statues which are on display in Sobha Singh Museum. He got several awards and was felicitated by many organizations. He was honoured with ‘Padam Shree’ one of the national awards, by President of India. Union Ministry of Information & Broadcasting released a documentary film, “Painter of People” to commemorate his 75th birthday. BBC, London also made a documentary on him. He was conferred the degree of D.Lit( honoris causa) by Punjabi University, Patiala.
The painter of people passed away on 22 August 1986 at Chandigarh. These days his art centre has holds great value in Punjab’s heritage. Most of the paintings here have the influence Kangra School of art and are done-well in western classical techniques of oil painting