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Lot Details

Signed and dated 'Raza 04' (lower right)
Further signed, dated, titled, and inscribed 'Raza / 2004 / TOI-MOI / 120 x 60 / Acrylic on Canvas' (on the reverse)

Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner
Private collection, Dubai

Alain Bonfand, Raza, Editions de La Différence, Paris, 2008, pg. 229 (illustrated)
Ashok Vajpeyi, A Life in Art: Raza, Art Alive Gallery, New Delhi, 2007, pg. 199 (illustrated)

"Toi, tu prends forme,
moi, je serais sans cesse:
tous deux à la poursuite de l'union.

Ma joie, ton corps
tes délices, ma presence.

Je te donne visage,
tu me rends l'infinie.

Nous deux, un seul corps
Un nouvel être est né
le toi-moi, le moi-toi.

Entre nous plus de difference
moi toi, toi Tuka."

- Santo Tukaram

One of the many subjects Sayed Haider Raza pondered in his canvases was man's relationship with the divine, borrowing inspiration from ancient teachings and philosophers in this quest. One of whom was Sant Tukaram, a 17th-century Indian poet and sant of the Bhakti Movement, best known for his devotional poetry (abhang). Tukaram made over 4,609 poems in his lifetime; the present work titled Toi-Moi, as written by Raza on the reverse of the canvas alludes to one of them.

The devotional poem speaks of man's desire to be close and in union with the divine. Raza employs two bindus side by side to signify the meeting of these forces - being the sacred symbols of the cosmos unmanifested - the beginning of creation and the point of unity. The bindus not only pervades the work but also accentuates and explains it. The dominant color blue, on the other hand, portrays a peaceful and vast nothingness, like the primordial waters of the cosmic ocean. Similar to Tukaram's poems - which made use of simple verses composed of vernacular language, the artist devoid the canvas of any unnecessary elements to attain simplicity and portray the purest form of nature.

The easel was not a place for convention for Raza but a space that encompasses a wide range of human experiences, resulting in a body of work that encapsulates an inner experience as much as a visual one. His mandalas and bindus stir as it delights the senses, weaving together the strands of art and spirituality and leading anyone who contemplates it in unity with the divine, like the abhang of Sant Tukaram.

Sayed Haider Raza

(1922 - 2016)
Born in 1922 in Babaria, Madhya Pradesh, Raza graduated from the Nagpur School of Art in 1943 and the Sir J.J. School of Art, Mumbai in 1947. He was one of the founding members of the Progressive Artists’ Group in 1948. After receiving a French Government Scholarship in 1950 he left for Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts, Paris, where he was awarded the Prix de la Critique in 1956. In 1962 he served as a visiting lecturer at the University of California in Berkeley, USA. Raza has several solo exhibitions to his credit, including ‘Paysage: Select Works 1950s-1970s’, ‘Parikrama: Around Gandhi’, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, in 2014; ‘Shabd-Bindu’, Akar Prakar, Kolkata, in 2013; ‘Vistaar’, Art Musings and Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai, in 2012-13, ‘Bindu Vistaar’, Grosvenor Gallery, London, in 2012; ‘Punarangman’, Vadehra Art Gallery and Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, in 2011; ‘Ones’ at Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, in 2011 and 2010; Tao Art Gallery, Mumbai, 2008 and 2006; and Saffronart and Berkeley Square Gallery, London and New York, 2005. In 2007 Saffronart held a major retrospective of his work in New York. Raza’s work has been exhibited in several group exhibitions including those at Aicon Gallery, New York and London, in 2014, 13, 12, 11, 10; the Museum of Fine Art, Boston, in 2009; Grosvenor Gallery, London, Mumbai, 2004; Saffronart and Pundole Art Gallery, New York, 2001 and 2002; and Saffronart, Hong Kong and Los Angeles, 2001 among several others. Raza received a Lalit Kala Ratna from the Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi in 2004, and a Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri from the Government of India in 2007 and 1981 respectively. The Madhya Pradesh State Government also awarded him with the Kalidas Samman in 1996-97. Raza lived and worked in Paris and Gorbio, France, till 2011. The artist passed away in New Delhi in July 2016.