Artist Sohan Singh was born in August 1914. His interest in art was inherited from his talented artist father S. Gian Singh Naqqash. In 1929 he joined the Art Company of S.Hari Singh, and in 1931 after visiting Delhi and Bombay, he reached the port of Calcutta, where he joined his father in their business in Bazaar Sodhian.

In 1932 he made a portrait of S. Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, which fetched him a first prize at the Ramgarhia Federation Conference at Kharagpur.
A portrait of Banda Bahadur in a 'warrior's pose', which sold in thousands was very well acclaimed by the public. He bagged gold medals and high awards at exhibitions held at Calcutta, Kharagpur, Bombay, Trivandrum, Delhi etc. He won quite a few gold medals, plus silver medals and awards in money.

GS Sohan Singh promoting-"Sikh History in Art"
Maharaja Jassa Singh Ramgarhia attacking the Red Fort. This painting, which is in the Central Museum, Amritsar, got artist Sohan Singh the first prize in paintings.

An exceptional painting of Guru Nanak was bought by nearly 500 Americans, who were very much impressed with the artist's flare of the brush. S. Sawarn Singh, the Home Minister, presented S. Sohan Singh, with a 'Saropa' at the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Company Bagh at Amritsar in a ceremony inaugurated by the SGPC.

Mulk Raj Anand and Principal Teja Singh have paid glowing tributes to this talented artist.
Art students, who want to obtain degrees in art, have been flocking at his studio to obtain special knowledge on art

In his family possession, there is an old manuscript with pictures of the Sikh era, from which S. Sohan Singh made the spectacular painting of Maharaja Jassa Singh Ramgarhia, which now hangs at the Amritsar Central Sikh Museum.

Sohan Singh is a very mild natured man and a very humble person. His art can be seen in periodicals like Preet Lari, Ajit, Veer Bharat, Shere Bharat and many other magazines. His designs of calendars, labels and posters are a masterpiece, unequalled by any other artist.

At Chandigarh in 1970 he was acclaimed the Master Artist of the year, and the same year at Ludhiana he received a prestigious award from the Ramgarhia Silver Jubilee Conference.

His studio at the Braham Buta Market, Amritsar is a shrine for young and upcoming artists.

S. Jodh Singh Ramgarhia son of Maharaja Jassa Singh, in the Fort of Miani, during the battle with Maharaja Ranjit Singh & Sada Kaur
A cobra shades Guru Nanak, being watched by Rai Bular. Inset: The infant Nanak and stopping the stone in mid air at Panja Sahib (Pakistan)
The story of Rajni, who took her crippled husband to a pool and her crippled husband was cured. This place is now the Dukh Bhanjani Beri and the pool is the Harmandir Sahib.
At the birth of Guru Gobind Singh, Guru Teg Bahadur Ji distributing alms to the people
A queen of a state longed for a son like Guru Gobind Singh. Guru Ji detecting her wish, went and sat in her lap like her own son.
Guru Gobind Singh urging his Sikh Warriors to fight for justice.
After the cremation of Guru Gobind Singh at Nanded, he saved two Mahratta Chiefs, Bala Rao & Rustam Rao from the fort of Sitara in Puna
A 1933 Painting of Guru Gobind Singh with the 'Parsadi Hathi' presented to him by a hill chief
The Sacrifice of Guru Teg Bahadur
The Dera of Baba Vadbagh Singh, where possessed people go to be cured spiritually.
Painting by G.S.Sohan Singh of his father S. Gian Singh Naqqash (1883-1953). S. Gian Singh kept alive the fast vanishing art of 'Naqqashi' (fresco) (back ground of painting). He dedicated his entire life to decorating the walls of Sri Harmandir Sahib. Sohan Singh used his father's initials in front of his own name, thus G.S.Sohan Singh.
Bhai Gian Singh Naqash (1883-1953)

Bhai Gian Singh (1883-1953), a Naqqash or a Fresco-Painter was born in the city of Amritsar in 1883. His father Taba Singh was a comb-maker by profession, supplemented his meagre income by dispensing ayurvedic medicines in his spare time. At the age of five, Gian Singh was sent to school run by Giani Thakur Singh, who later rose into prominence as a Sikh missionary and scholar Giam Thakur Singh's influence on him was everlasting.
After he had passed his primary school, Gian Singh was apprenticed to Nihal Singh Naqqash, a third generation descendant of Bhal Kehar Singh Naqqash, who enjoyed court patronage under Maharaja Ranjlt Singh. Gian Singh served his apprenticeship for 14 long years until the death of his mentor in 1905 He brought to his passion for drawing unusual powers of observation and concentration He made rapid progress in his art and soon began to collaborate with Jawahar Singh Naqqash, a brother of his erstwhile teacher, in working on ornamental designs in the Golden Temple.
Gian Singh's fame will rest principally on his fresco-painting on the walls of the Golden Temple. The art of fresco-painting consists in transferring the outline (Khaka) of a design on wet plaster and then filling the outline with appropriate colours before the plaster dries up. The basic colours thus established are worked with requisite details and light and shade achieved with dots and streaks. The colours used are indigenously prepared red ochre from hiramchi yellow ochre from gulzard, emerald green from sang-e-sabz, lamp black from burnt coconut, ultra marine from lajvard and white from burnt marble.
While much of Gian Singh's work on the outer walls of the domed structure, on the topmost storey, stands partially erased by wind and rain, that on its inner walls yet survives in its original freshness. One dehin executed by him in the sanctum on the first floor, just above Har ki Pauri, bears testimony to his inimitable workmanship. Dehin, the most fascinating item of fresco-painting was Gian Singh's forte. It is an imaginative ensemble of forms taken by the artist from animal or vegetable life, so curiously intertwined as to present a composite and organized whole Structurally, dehin has three parts- pedestal, a vase poised on the pedestal and a bouquet of flowers or a floral bush called jhar. On the pedestal are depicted birds or animals in various dramatic postures in clasp, in combat or one chasing the other. These figures are often intertwined with creepers.
The other items of note in fresco-painting are floral "square " ( murraba) and "rectangle" (tilli). These are used in wall, floor or ceiling decoration. The square usually consists of a fine setting of flowers, leaves, creepers or bushes within a flowery border with handsomely patterned corners. A typical example of a square done by Gian Singh is the one called Aquatic Harmony. It takes for its motif a number of fish encircling a tortoise, with others frolicking around the first set in a circular rhythm.
Gian Singh introduced a number of innovations in the art of fresco painting. His predecessors in the Sikh school of art depicted gods and goddesses in the body of the pedestal in the manner of their Persian or Mughal forerunners. But Gian Singh replaced these motifs with those of "grapples" (pakran) of animals, birds, flowers, creepers, etc. He also painted historical Sikh shrines on the body of the vase formerly left blank in addition to this, he brought shade work to a high standard of perfection and gave a poetic touch to his compositions by making them rhythmically balanced and elegant. The colours he used were always bright and attractive.
Apart from fresco painting Gian Singh tried his hand at several allied arts such as (gach) stuccowork, (jarathari) mosaic work and (tukri) cut-glass work. He was an expert in gach work which consists in carving embossed designs on partially wet layers of plaster of Paris and afterwards, when completely dry, covering it with gold leaves with an undercoat of varnish. Verses from the Japu ji have been rendered in this style under the arches leading to the sanctum in the Golden Temple. Another type of work popularly known as tukri work, much in vogue in Mughal days, consists in setting pieces of glass, gold leaves or precious stones in gach work in artistic patterns. The twin work on the inside of the dome in the central sanctum of the Golden Temple executed in its entirety by Gian Singh, bears witness to his sense of design and his patience and assiduity.
Gian Singh not only prepared designs for Jaratkari (mosaic) work in marble to be executed by craftsmen from Delhi and Rajasthan, but also selected stones of appropriate colour and grain to be laid in the marble. The mosaic designs were based on colourful representations of flora and fauna or on themes picked from Hindu mythology.
Gian Singh was a master of free-hand drawing. His pencil kept pace with the abundance of designs and ideas which flowed from his fertile mind as some of his published works like Nikashi Darpan, Vishkarma Darpan, Nikashi Art Sikhhya and Taj-e-zargari, indicate.
In the Nikashi Darpan (1924), he has drawn stylised forms of various flowers side by side with their natural forms, showing how the latter could be improved upon for the purpose of adjustment in a design. It also contains line work studies of birds and animals, different limbs and organs of the human body, border designs in rectangular, square, half patterns, allover patterns and vase stands composed of rhythmically intertwined animal, bird and plant forms. The Vishkarma Darpan (1926) is a profusely illustrated manual of decorative, architectural and furniture designs. The Taj-e-Zargari (Vol. 1 1920, and Vol II, 1930) contains 1539 designs of Indian ornaments. The Nikashi Art Sikhya (1942) contains scores of sketches designed to initiate a beginner into the intricacies of drawing.
While toiling at larger works, Gian Singh found time for painting easel pictures in which he could freely indulge his humour. Some of his canvases are notable for their originality of conception and workmanship. His painting Types of Irreligious, which illustrates a well-known couplet of Kablr, is a biting satire on charlatans who dupe the naive and the gullible in the name of religion. The Eternal Strife, based on a mythological theme, represents the forces of Good (suras) locked in mortal combat with those of Evil (asuras) . The Elephant Fight allegorises Maya and its victims. It depicts two male elephants (victims) contending fiercely for the prize - Maya in the form of a female elephant who, standing at a distance, contemplates the fight with sadistic mirth.
In appreciation of Gian Singh's exquisite work in the Golden Temple, he was presented, in 1949, with a robe of honour by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.
During his apprenticeship, Gian Singh had prepared a set of paintings on the Ten Sikh Gurus which was printed in Germany. It became very popular.
Gian Singh died in 1953. Another famous Amritsar artist, G.S.Sohan Singh, was his son. His eldest son, Sundar Singh, was martyred in the Jallianvala Bagh Firing.

Excerpts taken from
"The Encyclopedia of Sikhism" edited by Harbans Singh.

A painting of Guru Gobind Singh with Panj Piaras by GS Sohan Singh