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Lot Details

Signed and dated 'Raza '81' (lower right)
Further signed, titled dated and inscribed in French and English 'Raza / 1981 / 50 x 50 cm / "Le Réve" / Acrylique sur toile' (on the reverse)

Private collection, Dubai

Before the acclaimed Bindu surfaced in Sayed Haider Raza’s work, he began as a landscape artist. His earliest works were composed of expressionist landscapes which gradually evolved to rigid and geometric representations of French towns and villages following his move to Paris.

In the early 1960s, Raza’s exposure to the New York School of painters and to Abstract Expressionism marked a shift in his paintings. He began to integrate vital elements of his Indian heritage and memories into his paintings. Rooted in his childhood memories of life growing up close to the dense forest of Madhya Pradesh, his work fused symbolic abstract forms into a powerful expression of mood and atmosphere of the Indian night. Raza’s theme remained on landscape but his lines began to blur, reflecting his engagement with the non-representational. Colour began to dominate his work, especially black, which for him was the mother colour from which other hues were born. Majority of the painting from this period was emerging from darkness, crepuscular and almost hallucinatory. He started showing the more intangible aspects of a landscape rather than mimetic representation. Instead of the physical attributes, he deftly manipulated colour and light to focus on the emotion a scene evoked.

The present lot represents the culmination of this period of experimentation in S.H Raza’s career, he masterfully used an emotive, largely monochromatic palette to recreate the elusive mood brought on by the descent of night. The aura of the night is suggested by establishing a most luminous indigo, light enough for the black of the night to be defined, yet dark enough to establish mystique, and for the white to contrast against it. There is no apparent source of light yet the texture of the paint lends subtle luminescence, emphasizing the darkness and their allusion to the memory and the mood.

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.