Portrait of Muhammad Singh Azaad (Udham Singh), Oil on Canvas, 36"X48"- 2009

Udham Singh (1899-1940) is one of the legendry luminaries of Indian independence movement, best known for assassinating Michael O'Dwyer (the Lieutenant Governor of the Panjab province of British India), in March 1940, London. Born into a poor household in the village Sunam, Sangrur District of Punjab, Udham was orphaned at an early age during his childhood. Young Udham Singh was deeply troubled by the horrific unwarranted killing of hundreds of innocent Indians gathered at Jallianwala Bagh Amritsar in 1919. They had come to hear protest speeches against the arrests of Indian leaders and the unpopular Rowlatt Act and were massacred. He made a solemn vow to punish the perpetrator of this indiscriminate gratuitous bloodshed. Despite being condemned by the Labour Party and a call for him to resign, O’Dwyer stood firm and declared the killings as a virtuous action on his part.Udham Singh was known by many names, some assumed to elude the British intelligence agencies keeping eyes on Indian freedom fighters. Despite being born into a Sikh Punjabi household, he referred himself to Mohamed Singh Azad and not only gave the statement under this name but also wished to be addressed in the court by the same name.

Kanwal Dhaliwal is a sensitive, conscientious, committed and trained artist- who believes in art for purpose; his recent series of popular portraits further reaffirm his zeal to stand against oppression, injustice, civil rights atrocities and irrational thoughts through his artistic vision.Indian folklore signifies that the words allied to good deeds will always be written in golden letters; fittingly, Kanwal painted in the foreground, along with Shaheed’s portrait, the historical words of Udham Singh’s statement in golden letters and in the background painted an image of the Old Bailey and text in dark blue, representing public prosecutor persuading the Magistrate to place a ‘BAN’ on Udham’s statement. Within the golden text you can distinguish the image of the pistol in flushed colour that Udham Singh used to accomplish his purpose.

-Sukhdev Sidhu