NEW DELHI: If you thought princesses always wore flowing silken gowns with expensive jewelry pieces and tiaras and literally did nothing 24x7, then your assumptions belong to the Medieval times. Today’s princesses opt for higher education, are involved in charity work, and even turn into artists. Like Vidita Singh, who hails from the royal family of Barwani, an erstwhile kingdom in Madhya Pradesh.
Singh has carved a niche for herself as one of the few automotive artists in India. She is also the only Indian, so far, to exhibit at the prestigious Automotive Fine Arts Society Exhibition at Pebble Beach Concours, California, in 2018.
The self-taught artist is in Delhi for her maiden solo show here, Art of the Automobile. It has 25 works of vintage models of Cadillac, Rolls Royce, Pontiac, Bluets, Jaguars, Mercedes... most of these completed in the last two years. Given the painstaking details, some of these look like photographs.
“I take over 45 days to make one painting. Not only because each needs extensive detailing but also because I use oil paints which take a long time to dry,” shares Singh.
Singh owes her inclination towards automobiles to her father Rana Manvendra Singh, a vintage car collector. Son of the last ruler of Barwani, Rana Devi Singh, Manvendra Singh is credited with starting India’s first vintage and classic car restoration workshop in Indore, in 1978.
“Even as a child I was enamoured by cars. My first memory of enjoying a car was when I was around eight. My father had brought a 1935 Bentley that he had restored at his workshop. It just took my breath away. That image is still vivid in my mind. How that car gleamed...,” Singh reminisces, still in awe.
It may sound strange but the erstwhile princess never had any plans to become an artist. “While in school, I took private classes in drawing and painting out of interest, but turning into an artist had not crossed my mind. It all happened by chance, she says.
“My father was writing an article for a magazine. He needed a rendering for it, which he asked me to make. That was in 1998.” Singh then made a few paintings of vintage cars for her father and a few more for her friends, and soon realised that she enjoyed this activity the most.
Singh now paints the car models with charcoal, water and oil, against a backdrop that’s uniquely Indian, such as a dilapidated fort, a polo ground, or a forest road.
“For me, each of these cars has a soul of its own, which I try to bring out through my art.” Deeply passionate about vintage and classic cars, Singh tries to give these beauties their due place in Indian art through her exhibitions; she also encourages younger artists in the field, and even advises them on how to go about painting cars.
“Cars don’t get the kind of attention in art that should be given to them, especially in India,” she says.
Next, she’s showcasing in Benguluru. “Apart from Delhi, southern region, especially Hyderabad, has substantial number of art collectors who buy my works.”
But her heart is set on the annual RetroMobile Show in Europe. “Paris is the host city for RetroMobile in February 2021, and I plan to participate in it.”
At: Bloomfield Gallery, Bikaner House
Till: February 16