Sohan Singh Billawaria on his mission to keep Basholi Art painting alive
Basohli Art form was born in the 16th century. The king of Basohli, Kirpal Pal, a huge fan of paintings had three royal painters and the king would often get these painters to create magic on canvas. Now, many of us in Jammu know about today’s Basohli art paintings which sell the world over. This is why we thought why not introduce you to the last of the Royal bloodline painters. There are other painters too off course.
Sohan Singh Billawaria has been creating traditional Basohli art since his college days, and has been a full-time Basholi art painter and instructor for the past 27 years. Today, he is counted among few artists who has been keeping the tradition of Basholi Art painting alive.
He was born in the family of Basholi Art painters so it is very right to say that art flows in his blood. His father, grandfather, great grandfather use to make Basholi painting.
Since it was in his blood, he never felt the need of any formal training. As a child, he explored the art and during college days, he started painting on his own and has been painting ever since.
Started 27 years ago, Sohan Singh Billawaria has made innumerable Basholi Art paintings that have been loved by the people from across the world.
One of the peculiarities of Basholi Art paintings is that the eyes of the characters are rounder and bigger and this gives the painting a very attractive look. Besides, artificial colours are never used.
Sohan paints with colours he extracts from nature which make the painting very soft & extraordinarily natural.
The most important feature of Basohli paintings is the use of real gold with particles of green beetles’ wings. Due to the use of gold, Basohli paintings are counted among the most expensive paintings in the world.
His favourite genre is Rasamañjarī in which a couple especially Radha and Krishna is illustrated. You will never see mountains in his paintings. There will be only round shaped trees.
Besides painting the most expensive art in the world, Sohan works for several NGOs and takes special Basohli Art classes outside the state. He feels globalisation has had a very bad effect on the art.
His personal favourite painting is Mahashakti Smadhi Simran which he has kept in his gallery and he never wants to sell it. Sohan has won acclamation various times from the Ministry of textile and culture. His only dream is to keep this royal art alive.