Madanjeet Singh, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador represents the Director General Madame Irina Bokova

News Saint Tropez, France - 4th July 2010
Madanjeet Singh

Mr Tuveri Mayor of Saint Tropez welcomes Madanjeet Singh, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.
Madanjeet Singh

The UNESCO artist for Peace, Alain Husson Dumontier, the Mayor of Saint Tropez, Madanjeet Singh, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, France Marquet, SAF Trustee.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

May I at the very outset mention that I am delighted to be with you today, an occasion which is a double honour for me to represent Mme Irina Bokova, the first woman Director-General of UNESCO, and to inaugurate the exhibition of Mr. Husson-Dumoutier’ a UNESCO Artist for Peace. Needless to say that since Mr. Chico Bourchikhi was designated the first UNESCO Artist for Peace 1996, a number of internationally renowned personalities as Mr. Husson-Dumoutier have made extraordinary contribution to peace through their careers and humanitarian commitment. At the same time they have effectively enhanced public awareness of UNESCO’s programmes, objective and ideals.

Frankly, I am not happy making such formal speeches, especially on an occasion such as this as I am overwhelmed with emotion to see a number of cultural practitioners who have come to see Mr. Husson-Dumoutier’s exhibition. Frankly, I must confess that I would have preferred to be a UNESCO Artist for Peace rather than a Goodwill Ambassador. You may not comprehend my feeling unless I briefly describe the most creative and exiting period of my life as I came to Italy on a scholarship in 1950.

Initially, my ambition was to become a painter, and I worked in the studio of a friend, Eva Fischer, in Via Margutta, a well-known haunt of international artists in Rome. I was still suffering from the partition of India syndrome of the gruesome carnage I had lived through in both parts of the divided Punjab– this was the primary theme of my paintings in the early 1950s. European artists at the time were similarly emotionally affected by the horrors of the Second World War. Hence there was great yearning among both artists and intellectuals to secure a lasting peace. Moreover they felt that these efforts would be futile unless an important role was assigned to arts and culture. Among them was my friend Fortunato Bellonzi who was greatly excited by the idea of a united Europe. His view was that only by integrating the European economy with what he called ‘a common fulcrum of culture’ would post-war Europe recover and stabilize. He cited the example of Pablo Picasso, who was born in Spain but was essentially a European painter. His masterpiece “Guernica” spoke out not only against Franco’s war in Spain but also against the universal horror of all conflicts. Belllonzi wanted to bring European artists onto a common platform.

I was in Venice organizing the exhibition of Indian art at the 1953 Biennale when Bellonzi contacted a number of famous European artists. Requesting them to draw sketches to be interpreted in glass by the famous Venetian glass blowers in Murano. He wanted to promote original ideas to infuse new life into Venice’s glass-blowing industry, which was dying, as the artisans continued to produce the stereotypical wares. To cut the long story short, it was by accident that I was also included in the eminent group that comprised such great masters of art as Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Alexander Calder, Georges Braque, Oscar Kokoschka, Henry Moore, Guttuso and Le Corbusier. And my ego was boosted all the more when my two glass pieces that I designed were among the first exhibits to be sold at the International Exhibition of Glass Art of Murano, held at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome from 22 May to 13 June in 1954.

It is in this context that I greatly admire Mr. Husson-Dumoutier’s exhibition “Soul of the Mediterranean” that displays more than 250 works inspired by the “three sacred books for peace”, the “Cities and the Temples” and the poetry surrounding “Mare Nostrum”. I must congratulate this great son of the soil and the UNESCO Artist of Peace who has exhibited his masterpieces worldwide and at many international museums. Inspired by the works of Omar Khayam, Dante and Rimbaud. He has travelled extensively, creating works of art that reveal the hidden secrets of the soul. For, as I have often repeated: Civilization is not something solid and external. It is a people’s dream, their imaginative interpretation of human existence, the perception of human life. In our unfortunate violent world an artist is obliged  to shoulder  great deal of responsibility in order to build a peaceful world in which people love reason, shun darkness, turn towards light, praise virtue, condemn violence and wars - people whose minds are sensitive, hearts generous and spirits free.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart

Madanjeet Singh
UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador
Founder, South Asia Foundation