A British artist and sculptor shares his lifelong passion for India in a striking new collection of narrative paintings to be exhibited in London.
Exhibition at the Osborne Studio Gallery.
May 16th to June 10th 2023
Lincoln Seligman has an almost umbilical link with India. His family is connected with some of the great names in the country’s history and literature, from Mahatma Gandhi (a close friend of his paternal grandmother Hilda Seligman) and Rudyard Kipling (his mother’s godfather) to the shepherd boy Chandragupta, who became the first Emperor of the Indian Mauryan dynasty around 320 BCE. A bronze sculpture of the boy, created by Hilda Seligman, now sits in majesty on a red sandstone plinth in front of the Indian Parliament in New Delhi.
India infused Lincoln’s childhood, with Kipling’s Just So Stories and The Jungle book firm favourites. ‘I grew up with stories of India as a magical place’ and ‘realised early on that art existed and could create beautiful things,’ he says.
In an artistic career spanning more than 40 years, he has encapsulated both the magic and beauty of his beloved India. Collectors of his work include Chanel, Tiffany, Flemings Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, the Dukes of Devonshire and Roxburghe, and assorted Indian Maharajas.
His latest oeuvre, to be exhibited in May and June at the Osborne Gallery in London’s Mayfair, will include around 40 pieces which capture moments that ‘struck a visual chord’ with the artist during his recent travels to India – where he found inspiration in Delhi, Varanasi, Jodhpur and Udai Bilas, Rajasthan – and Sri Lanka.
Lincoln finds that travel ‘throws up visual opportunities’, as it ‘makes the eye keener and there are perhaps more surprises – the bang behind the bullet of creativity’. And, he adds, his works ‘usually contain an element of narrative – something is happening. Or has just happened’.
The exhibition coincides with the launch of a new aero and motor museum – founded by Maharaja Harshvardhan ‘Harsh’ Singh Dungarpur, scion of the princely family, motor enthusiast and friend of Lincoln Seligman – at the Udai Bilas Palace in Dungarpur, Rajasthan. A collection of antique aircraft will be added to the Dungarpur Mews Museum, where vintage cars and accessories are on display in a show aptly titled ‘Petrolhedonism’.
Lincoln spends several weeks each year at Harsh’s home in Udai Bilas Palace, exploring the region, seeking – and usually finding – inspiration.
A favourite subject remains one he has visited many times in the past: Maharajas hurtling
along in Rolls Royces, turbans fluttering in the breeze, a personification of Indian joie de vivre. In keeping with this theme of speed, Seligman also often depicts the Maharajas side-by-side with regal-looking cheetahs, the world’s fastest animal whose beauty and power are marked by 2023’s Year of the Cheetah.
Harsh Dungarpur has a Seligman room in his museum to display 25 prints, most of them versions of Maharajas at Speed. Some have been enlarged to four times their original size.
This latest batch of paintings was completed in 2022, based on photographs distilled at the end of each day Lincoln spent on the road. All started life as miniature watercolours, with some then selected to become full-size paintings on canvas.
They contain, muses Lincoln, ‘a healthy balance of fantasy, exaggeration, artist’s licence and whimsy’.