Rajkumar Chandrajitsana Singh: A Historian on Canvas
Rajkumar Chandrajitsana Singh, popularly known as RKCS, is a legendary doyen in the field of fine arts in Manipur. He is noted as the finest artist of his time in entire North-Eastern India. His reputation is confined not only to Manipur and many non-locals pay a visit to Manipur to see his artworks every year. His paintings are presented as a state gift by the Government of Manipur to national and foreign delegates.
A brief biography of RKCS
RKCS was born on the 13th of November 1924 at Keishamthong Longjam Leirak, Imphal. His grandfather Rajkumar Gour Singh and his father Rajkumar Yumjaosana Singh were great artists of their time. He inherited the creative genius of his father and grandfather and started his career as an apprentice under his father during the Second World War. After the war, he used to paint theatre backdrops and photography backgrounds. In 1947, he established an art studio named RKCS Chitralaya at Maxwell Bazar (presently Thangal Bazar) which became an institute for fine arts for new generations of artists under his guidance. Paintings for cinema publicity posters were produced by the studio for the first time in Manipur- the first poster being that of “Dekho Ji” and the last being “Chang Shi Chang”. Most of the artworks and paintings of the studio were for commercial purposes.
The most remarkable contribution of RKCS was his authentic and realistic paintings on mythological, historical, and cultural subjects. In 1968, 11 portrayals depicting the story of the legendary epic “Khamba Thoibi” were painted by RKCS to display at the Thangjing Temple. He also painted 72 historical paintings depicting the history of Manipur from 1709 to 1949 by investing almost 10 years in researching and painting. RKCS painted more than 10,000 realistic and imaginative portrayals during sixty-five years. He served as the Chairman of the Arts Society of Manipur for three consecutive terms and associated with various cultural organizations in Manipur. He expired on November 20, 2004.
About the paintings of RKCS
The RKCS Art Gallery was formally inaugurated on May 5, 2003, in the presence of state and national delegates. The gallery is under the RKCS Museum of Arts and Crafts. It stores the authentic and realistic paintings of RKCS which display the history and culture of Manipur.
The main highlight of the gallery is the historical paintings that were exhibited in1990. The paintings portray the vivid history of the Burmese-Manipuri relation, the Ahom-Manipuri relation, the Anglo-Manipuri relation, and the merger of Manipur to India. His paintings were not confined to a particular faith and culture and had a pluralistic approach. His artworks in the gallery incorporated those of Hindu mythology, the legendary epic ‘Khamba Thoibi’, ‘Lai Haraoba’, paintings on popular tribals of Manipur, etc. The nuances in each painting in the gallery reflect that RKCS has a zeal for nationalism and unity in diversity.
As a tourist destination
The RKCS Art Gallery is a tourist destination for art lovers. About 200-300 visitors visit the gallery in a month on an average during normal days. Most of the visitors are non-locals among whom many hold respectable designations in various institutions. Many union ministers, foreign ambassadors, chief justices, governors of different states have visited the gallery to see the artworks of RKCS.
Awards and Honours
RKCS was a recipient of several honours. He received ‘SilpaBhushan’ in 1981 and ‘ChitrakalaRatna’ posthumously in 2005 from Manipur Sahitya Parishad. He was honoured with ‘Fellow’ in 1989 by the Manipur State Kala Akademi. His name entered in the ‘Limca Book of Records ‘ in 1990 for the highest number of exhibits at a Solo Exhibition.
RKCS is noted as the pioneer who led the art movement in Manipur. His prowess in fine arts and his dedication and sacrifices in exhibiting the culture and tradition of Manipur to the rest of the world earned him an immortal name. He bequeathed his creative talent to his third son, Rajkumar Budhimanta Singh who is currently curating the RKCS Art Gallery.