This month we talk to Tejbir Singh, an architect by trade but an artist by passion, who has applied his unique professional experience of pencilling structures to his creative endeavours, creating visually dramatic sketches. FACT’s Tony Sidgwick learns more…

Until early December , the InTouch Gallery, within the InTouch Chiropractic Spine Centre is playing host to an exhibition entitled Sporting Lines, by artist Tejbir Singh. In keeping with the centre’s speciality in Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation, the collection boasts artworks depicting lively sports scenes, all hand-drawn in pen, ink and pastels.

hand-drawn in pen, ink and pastels. Being a sports lover, Tejbir could not resist the temptation of doing a series of drawings from sports practiced and played in Bahrain as well as some International games. These drawings show specific action snapshots from sports like football, basketball, volleyball, handball, tennis, cricket, hockey, ice hockey, Thai boxing, horse riding etc. “I’ve always been fond of sports but sports art is something new for me,” Tejbir says. “But when my curator, Frances, suggested this topic since the gallery is in a clinic that treats sports persons, I thought I would give it a try.”

An architect by profession, Tejbir has been working with leading consultancies in Bahrain since 1998. He has been drawing since a very young age since, his creative side was inspired by a teacher at school. “I’ve been sketching and drawing since I was a kid, it was always a part of me. I have not formally studied art, but I had a great art teacher in school who started me on oils pretty early and I learnt more of water colours and sketching in Architecture college, but apart from that I learnt very much on my own,” he says. Since then, he has focused mostly on depicting historical buildings, houses and cultural sites in Bahrain.

“During the last couple of years, as a result of certain architectural projects in Muharraq, I have been drawn even more towards the heritage of this island and have tried to capture them in a series of pen and ink drawings, a medium I use extensively in architectural presentations, with touches of colour from water colours, pastels and so on. The theme basically is The streets of Muharraq.”

“Arts and artists are not exactly synonymous with logic and reasoning, and there are times you would end up ignoring certain practical issues. But, on the other side, the kind of satisfaction that you can get from an artistic endeavour would be hard to match.”

Quite a few of the scenes feature the fascinating co-existence and juxtaposition of the traditional and modern archetypes present in Bahrain; the old and the new indicative of the passage of time, within one single viewpoint. “As an extension of this I have carried on and started working on some similar themes in Manama also and aim to cover other areas like Khamis and Riffa,” Tejbir shares

“The current works I am doing are more towards realism with touches of impressionism. The architect in me does come through in the details and the use of mediums like sketch pens. But I do dabble in abstracts also on occasion.” It’s not just the architecture in Bahrain that has inspired Tejbir’s creative side, but the country as a whole, in which the thriving arts scene has always nurtured those with creative ambitions. However, though it faltered somewhat in recent years, it’s currently experiencing a bit of a renaissance, as Tejbir explains.

“The arts scene here is pretty active, and I think Bahrainis themselves are quite artistic by nature. However while there were more options for semi professional and amateur artists to showcase their works a few years earlier, there are lesser places now,” he says. “Thankfully places like In Touch and Malja have sprung up recently!” However, finding a place to showcase his works hasn’t been Tejbir’s only challenge. He tells us: “Another struggle has been in the form of overzealous security persons in certain localities like Amwaj, who treat sketching as a security threat. I had my sketch book taken away once.

And what would Tejbir’s advice be to those looking to explore their creative sides? “Follow your heart. If you believe in what you are doing, carry on doing it, no matter how critical and sceptical the world around you is. The same people who were criticising you will start praising you. Something good is bound to come out of it,” Tejbir advises.


 

GO: Sporting Lines will run at InTouch Gallery until early December, where Tejbir’s framed illustrated drawings are also available for purchase. Call 1769 0100 for more information.