Art News & Views

Surinder Chadda


Surinder Chadda died one day and he died the life of a destitute. He was sleeping under the ramshackle of the theatre like structure on the back entrance of the Garhi Studios. He had been living there for a long time, away from friends and relatives. Chadda was one of the veteran printmakers in India who was trained in Germany. He was one of the pioneers in the Garhi Graphics Department and according to the artists who worked closely with him Chadda was unique in lithography and who never compromised with anything when it came to printmaking.

Chadda spent his final years in loneliness and destitution because he chose himself to be so. “For many his attitude was intolerable. He loved people in his own way. But most of the people could not take his attitude. This slowly led to his aloofness. I would say he invited himself to be alone. His brother and nephew constantly approached him with support but he refused to receive any. It was a bit too romantic. And he lived in Garhi and died there,” remembers Ananda Moy Banerji.

The stubborn romanticism of Chadda, mixed with arrogance and abrasiveness led him to a cocoon. People did not hate him but they did not love him either for his arrogance, says Tapan Bhowmick. Chadda was a very colourful personality at one point of time. He was famous for his variously coloured turbans. He would come by a scooter and often make a young art student to sit at his pillion seat. He did not wear a turban, instead he kept one with him in the scooter. When the red signal came, if traffic cop was around, he asked the student to place the turban on his head. The moment the light turned green he removed and kept it back.

Surinder Chadda had almost a monopoly in the lithography section at the Graphics Department in Garhi. During his energetic years none dared to approach him while he worked. He worked with a lot of passion and diligence and the whole lot of artists who worked in the department at that time let him to have his freedom with the machines and press. He was a peerless lithography artist. His works are in the collections of NGMA, College of Art, New Delhi, Chandigarh Museum and several other private collections. His brother in Mumbai too holds a collection of his works apart from some private collectors in Germany.


Images Courtesy: Garhi Studios



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