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Signed and dated 'Raza '99' (lower left)

Further signed , titled twice in Hindi and English, dated and inscribed 'Raza / "Duvidha" / 1999 / acrylic on canvas / 100 x 100 cm' (on the reverse)

Ashok Vajpeyi, A life in Art: Raza, Art Alive Gallery, New Delhi, 2007 p. 257 (illustrated)

Acquired directly from the artist.

Raza’s work almost always holds deep spiritual undertones. In Duvidha, the black bindu, or the cosmic egg stands out prominently in the composition. The bindu, in this painting, serves as the main reference point from which the entire work gathers its meaning. This positions the circle as a centre or focal-point to a larger living portrayal. According to the artist, the dark circle is like a dark nothingness, charged with a certain power, that radiates energy in the form of colour. The bindu, claimed Raza, “became [my] very backbone, supporting my body of work”. The images that emerge from the bindu are not recognizable in shape; yet, fluency of paint and its vibrant movement on the surface is maintained. This juxtaposition between the abstract and the discernible, the nebulous and the structured, underscores a living unity that ties the myriad aspect of creation together.

“It was the search for the intangible. My quest to create the tangible altered during the seventies. I tried to find ways to capture the moods of places and people. I had a preoccupation with evoking the essence of emotions and moods more than a visual sight. Elementary experiences of night and day, joy and anguish, summer and winter became my subjects for the fact that they were felt more than seen. From that gestural period of tones and expression, I moved to a new period in the eighties. The language of your painting changes when you start listening to silence. Within the silence of solitude, the inner landscape of the human mind moves into another pathway. I learnt to understand polarities - the co-existence of opposites that complement even as they exist. Life and death, man and woman, black and white-everything has a different rhythm. I realised how poetry can contain few words and say so much. Painting became the metaphor of life itself.” (Artist Statement, Ashok Vajpeyi, A life in Art: Raza, Art Alive Gallery, New Delhi, 2007, p. 345)

From the 1970’s onwards, Raza’s personal sense of self - his Indian identity and sensibilities of life, extended clearly into his art. In vedic philosophy, the cosmic egg is a popular refrain - the primordial center from which all creation extends. The artist conveys the bindu in a similar sense; he paints it in black which, according to him, is the “mother colour” from which all other colours are born. A study of Raza’s work around this time reveals that the bindu remained a constant theme in his repertoire. The painting’s imagery also reveals Raza’s influences from the passionate colours of the Jain and Rajasthan miniatures.

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.