KOLKATA, (C.M. Paul) – An artist and long time Mother Teresa associate organized week-long solo exhibition of paintings inspired by the saint of the gutters and Nobel laureate to mark her 101st birth anniversary. The exhibition held at Abanindranath Tagore Gallery of Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Kolkata started on Blessed Teresa’s beatification anniversary 19 October (2003) and concluded on 24 October. Each evening, city artists like Usha Uthup and others turned up to pay their homage. Sumit Roy who has a collection of some 30 original compositions on Mother Teresa both in English and Bengali languages performed at the gallery each evening.
Kolkata based Ritu Singh documents Mother Teresa’s selfless work for the poorest of the poor through her 45 paintings executed over a period of almost 50 years.
Though the entire exhibition is shraddhanjali for Mother Teresa, one of her paintings has an offering of flowers at Mother’s feet as the saint enters Singh’s home.
Viewers at the gallery are awestruck to see Mother Teresa in a series of 12 paintings depicting the zodiac signs. Singh is quick to tell its significance, “Mother is universal and for all people.”
One of the paintings has Mother Teresa amidst clouds to signify that she is leaving the world and going to heaven.
Another painting Prarthana (prayer) which captures Mother in a meditative mood and wearing a crown of thorns is a symphony in white and grey. Singh explains, “it is symbolic to show that she was surrounded by agony.”
One of the paintings (Come Be My Light) was presented to Pope John Paul II at theVatican on October 19, 2003, on the occasion of Mother’s beatification.
Another painting shows the transformation of Mother Teresa from a stern sister running a school to an ever-smiling mother.
Still another painting depicts a young Mother Teresa taking handloom saris from the Leper Colony in Titagarh, Kolkata. “All the saris worn by the Missionaries of Charity sisters are hand-woven by the inmates of this colony,” says artist Singh.
All paintings are done in mixed media — ink, acrylic, pastel, charcoal and thin oil and make portraits of Mother come with a glaze finish.
As Singh took around Coadjutor archbishop Thomas D’Souza ofCalcuttathrough her paintings that were on display, she talked about her special bond she shared with Mother. “I grew up with Mother right from when I was a nine-year-old. It is a special mother-daughter relationship. Every day in my life with the Mother was like a miracle,” she added.
“My mum would often accompany Mother Teresa to slums and I would be left behind at the Mother House, under the supervision of the sisters. I was always looked upon as Mother’s daughter. As I waited for my own mom to return, I would sketch Mother and the sisters. That’s how I developed a passion for art and later took it up as a profession.”
Bengal Governor M.K. Narayanan unveiled Singh’s three panel “Mother’s Inspiration” paintings at MC Mother House, 10 September 2011. Mother Teresa claimed she received the divine call during a train journey toDarjeelingin 1946. Known as the ‘call within a call’, these visions subsequently inspired Mother to quit Loreto Sisters and form Missionaries of Charity.
Singh says explaining the paintings “this is my artistic interpretation – the first painting of the series has Mother standing in a slum with the poor stretching out their hands seeking her help. The second sees her praying as Mary blesses the poor. In the third, Mother is depicted as a child with Mary behind her and Jesus looking down on his children.