Updated: Feb 3
This week we will be talking to artist collective Lealh and Singh, discussing what it means to work in collaboration and how they explore their culture within their artwork and materials.
Image description: a vibrant and highly patterned image depicting a figure dressed in intricately patterned clothing. All around are intertwining trees, with red and blue striped birds. The centre reads Lealh and Singh collective, below reads @leahsingh.
Can you briefly describe your art collective?
Lealh & Singh is an international art collective with a collaborative team of art collectors, skilled art technicians and craftsmen located in England and India. Influenced by the love of culture, history and Indian mythology, Jatin Lealh & Risham Singh founded the Lealh & Singh Collective in 2015 with a purpose to conserve rare Indian arts and to showcase their vision through these ancient art techniques on a global stage.
Why do you choose to work as a collective? Common goal of conserving rare Indian arts brings us together; embarking on each other’s experience in fine art, Indian mythology and elaborated techniques enables the collective to consistently create, develop and profile these rare art forms
Can you tell us about the artwork that you exhibited in our Identity Exhibition?
Driven by our in-depth knowledge of Indian and Ancient art, as well as the art market, we believe in perpetually constructing and reconstructing the vision of Indian Art. Influenced by the love of culture, history and Indian mythology, I started creating artworks in forgotten rare Indian art forms to showcase my vision and inspirations. The painting Svetah-Kalah Suryasta (Black & White Sunset) displays a journey of folk to fine art. This art form originated in a small north Indian village about 2000 years ago. At that time Madhubani was a medium by which women expressed themselves to the outer world, whilst most of the ancient texts from that era remain silent about the contributions of women in the socio-cultural life, Madhubani paintings portrays their story.
Lealh & Singh Collective, Svetah-Kalah Suryasta (Black & White Sunset), natural dyes on handmade paper, 35 x 27 inches, 2016.
Image description: a black and white portrait painting depicting an abstract sunset. Spiralling lines and decorative patterns circle the composition. A stylised sun with a smiling face sits in the centre.
What drove you to pursuing this type of practice. Why do you choose this process and media?
Our journey is influenced by love of culture, history and Indian mythology, most of our artworks make use of a range of traditional media and our goal is to conserve art practices and to paint modern history in ancient art forms, whilst keeping the practices true and authentic to roots . Even today our art technicians use fingers, twigs and matchsticks for a number of elements in Madhubani paintings and colours used are traditionally obtained from natural source e.g. charcoal or soot for black, turmeric for yellow, red from sandalwood or rose, blue from indigo- we do use acrylics for cosmetic finishing.
What projects have you recently completed?
We completed 2 Tanjore commissions in Nov 2020. Artworks were our depiction of Sikh Gurus and they are now placed at the farmhouse of our collector in India.
Lealh & Singh Collective, Samraat, The Emperor 36x24 inch, Tanjavur Gold Foil & Acrylics on Wooden Board
Image description: a vibrant full length portrait painting depicting a regal emperor dressed red and gold clothes adorned with gold spiral patterns. He casually rests an arm on a gold and gem adorned chair.
Why do you make this type of art?
Lealh & Singh artworks represent a mode of expression. Whilst our work to date has been focused on ancient history, our vision is to create a modern history in ancient art forms and curate artistic projects, which engage and inspire our collectors and communities.
What kind of artists influence you the most?
Creations which contains powerful social and political messages e.g. human rights, acceptance and gender equality. Essentially, something that brings admiration and criticism in equal measure such as work by Ai Weiwei.
Lealh & Singh Collective, Mangalmurti (Lord of good fortune), Acrylic colours and 3D embossing on mount board, 33 x 27 inches, 2020.
Image description: a vibrant full length portrait painting depicting a figure draped and hooded in a red robe. His arms are crossed and in each hand he holds golden masks. At the bottom of the painting 6 more masks are lined against the frame.
What one thing would you like to change about the art industry today?
Diversity and the fact that modern art doesn’t always look exquisite. We would like to see more diverse art at public and private exhibitions, so that wider communities could be engaged – art is far too important in the post pandemic world for it to not reach masses. And also, we would like to see more of quality and meaningful work - as value of art has increased in secondary art market, we don’t feel quality of modern/contemporary art has grown in equal measure.
Artists everywhere have had to adapt to the sudden impact of COVID-19. Has your practice changed in any way during this time?
Yes, pandemic has invariably changed the way we do things, working as a collective always presents logistical challenges regarding getting to studios to work together on concepts and ideas. Whilst in many cases it has been far from ideal to work virtually on projects, however, we do embrace working virtually on some parts of the projects where we have now realised that physical presence isn’t necessary. As such, we envisage doing more virtually in 2021 then we ever did pre-pandemic.
If you would like to see more of their artwork you can follow them on Instagram @lealhsingh, or view their website here. You can also view their work which is currently being exhibited in the Identity exhibition here.
If you are interested in being featured as an Artist of the Week you can fill out a short application form here.