| Ritu Singh
she painted the “first ever portrait” of Mother Teresa in 1969, which the nun kept in Mother House till her death. Ritu Singh has since painted and sketched hundreds of images of Mother in different art forms, from abstract, to impressionist and then realist, which has been her “single-minded passion” in life for the past 30 years.
She was there when Mother received news of having won the Nobel Prize, just one of the “special moments Mother allowed me the honour of sharing with her”. She requested Singh to paint her on occasions, and then gifted the works of art to the likes of former US President Bill Clinton and the wife of former French President Francois Mitterand.
The art teacher at La Martiniere has showcased her works in over 50 exhibitions, including 17 solos, in different parts of the country. In honour of Mother’s impending beatification, she has created a gallery of her works at her own home, on Lower Rawdon Street. “Mother is an inspiration for not just me, but for people the world over. I just want to emphasise her goodness,” smiles the mother of one.
The winner of the Millennium Bharat Nirman Award for the Millennium Artist of the Year 2000 was also listed in the International Who’s Who of Twentieth Century Achievement, 1999. The former president of the Rotary Club of Calcutta, District 3290, has received a certificate from Pope John Paul II in recognition of her work on Mother.
It’s not just Mother Teresa she brings alive on canvas. All things spiritual attract her. Singh is currently working on a series of holy images. The speciality of the first and only Indian artist to have represented the country at the International Cambridge Group Art Exhibition, held in Budapest a few years ago, is seamlessly blending together images and symbols of different religions.
“It’s divinity that is important to me,” the soft-spoken artist explains. Her latest work is an impression of the Holy Trinity in Christianity, comprising the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Except in her version, the father is Shiva, the son Ganesh and the Holy Spirit is that of Parvati. It’s been bought, and is off to Gujarat.
Singh has been invited to exhibitions from Russia to Rome, but has not always been able to make it. “The red tape is the same everywhere,” she says. But support has been forthcoming from diplomats and embassies in India.
“My advantage is having two mothers as my inspiration. My own mother has always been by my side in everything I have done,” the 54-year-old adds. “In fact, she, too, is creative. She still writes poems in Hindi, which have been published. With blessings from her and Mother Teresa, how could I not be happy'”