S. H. Raza
Syed Haider Raza
Syed Haider Raza
22 February 1922 |
Babaria, Central Provinces and Berar
|Awards||Padma Vibhushan 2013
Padma Bhushan 2007
Fellow, Lalit Kala Akademi 1981
His works are mainly abstracts in oil or acrylic, with a very rich use of color, replete with icons from Indian cosmology as well as its philosophy. He was awarded the Padma Shri and Fellowship of the Lalit Kala Akademi in 1981, Padma Bhushan in 2007, and Padma Vibhushan in 2013.
He became India's priciest modern artist on 10 June 2010 when a seminal work, 'Saurashtra' by the 88-year-old sold for 16.42 crore ($3,486,965) at a Christie's auction.
Early life and education
Syed Haider Raza was born in Babaria, Mandla district, Madhya Pradesh, to Sayed Mohammed Razi, the Deputy Forest Ranger of the district and Tahira Begum, and it was here that he spent his early years and took to drawing at age 12; before moving to Damoh also in Madhya Pradesh at 13, where he completed his school education from Government High School, Damoh.
After high school, he studied further at the Nagpur School of Art, Nagpur (1939–43), followed by Sir J. J. School of Art, Bombay (1943–47), before moving to France in October 1950 to study at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts (ENSB-A) in Paris, 1950-1953 on a Govt. of France scholarship. After his studies, he travelled across Europe, and continued to live and exhibit his work in Paris. He was later awarded the Prix de la critique in Paris in 1956, becoming the first non-French artist to receive the honour.
His work evolved from painting expressionistic landscapes to abstract ones. From his fluent water colours of landscapes and townscapes executed in the early 40's he moved towards a more expressive language painting landscapes of the mind.
1947 proved to be a very important year for him, at first his mother died, and this was also the year when he co-founded the revolutionary Bombay Progressive Artists' Group (PAG) (1947–1956)  along with K.H. Ara and F.N. Souza (Francis Newton Souza), which set out to break free from the influences of European realism in Indian art and bring Indian inner vision (Antar gyan) into the art, the group had its first show in 1948, the year his father died in Mandla and most of his family of four brothers and a sister migrated to Pakistan, after the partition of India.
Once in France, he continued to experiment with currents of Western Modernism moving from Expressionist modes towards greater abstraction and eventually incorporating elements of Tantrism from Indian scriptures. Whereas his fellow contemporaries dealt with more figural subjects, Raza chose to focus on landscapes in the 1940s and 50s, inspired in part by a move to the France.
In 1959, he married French artist, Janine Mongillat, and three years later, in 1962, he became a visiting lecturer at the University of California in Berkeley, USA. Raza was initially enamored of the bucolic countryside of rural France. Eglise is part of a series which captures the rolling terrain and quaint village architecture of this region. Showing a tumultuous church engulfed by an inky blue night sky, Raza uses gestural brushstrokes and a heavily impasto-ed application of paint, stylistic devices which hint at his later 1970s abstractions.
The 'Bindu' and beyond
By the 1970s Raza had grown increasingly unhappy and restless with his own work and wanted to find a new direction and deeper authenticity in his work, and move away from what he called the 'plastic art'. His trips to India, especially to caves of Ajanta - Ellora, followed by those Benaras, Gujarat and Rajasthan, made him realise his ro and study Indian culture more closely, the result was 'Bindu', which signified his rebirth as a painter. The Bindu came forth in 1980, and took his work deeper and brought in, his new-found Indian vision and Indian ethnography. One of the reasons he attributes to the origin of the 'Bindu', have been his elementary school teacher, who on finding him lacking adequate concentration, drew a dot on the blackboard and asked him to concentrate on it.
After the introduction of 'Bindu' (a point or the source of energy), he added newer dimensions to his thematic oeuvre in the following decades, with the inclusion of themes around the Tribhuj (Triangle), which bolstered Indian concepts of space and time, as well as that of 'prakriti-purusha' (the female and the male energy), his transformation from an expressionist to a master of abstraction and profundity, was complete.
|“||"My work is my own inner experience and involvement with the mysteries of nature and form which is expressed in colour, line, space and light".
- S. H. Raza
The unique energy vibrating with colour in his early landscapes are now more subtle but equally, if not more, dynamic. Raza abandoned the expressionistic landscape for a geometric abstraction and the 'Bindu'. Raza perceives the Bindu as the center of creation and existence progressing towards forms and colour as well as energy, sound, space and time.
He has also founded 'Raza Foundation' in India, promotion of art among Indian youth, which also gives away, Annual Raza Foundation Award, to young artists.
S. H. Raza married Janine Mongillat, his fellow student at Ecole de Beaux Arts in Paris and later became a well-known artist and sculptor. They married in 1959, and at the request of her mother not to leave France, Raza chose to remain. Janine died on 5 April 2002 in Paris.
- 1946: Silver Medal, Bombay Art Society, Mumbai
- 1948: Gold Medal, Bombay Art Society, Mumbai
- 1956: Prix de la critique, Paris
- 1981: Padma Shri; the Government of India
- 1981: Fellowship of the Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi
- 1981:Kalidas Samman, Government of Madhya Pradesh
- 2007: Padma Bhushan; the Government of India
- 2013: Padma Vibhushan; the Government of India
- 2010 Flora Jansem Gallery, Raza Ceramiques, Paris
- 2010 Akar Prakar Art Gallery,Kolkata, Ahmadabad, Jaipur INDIA in 2010
- 2008 Art Alive Gallery, Delhi, INDIA in 2008
- View Exhibition Magnificent Seven at Art Alive Gallery
- 1997 Roopankar Museum of Fine Arts, Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal
- 1997 Jehangir Art Gallery Mumbai
- 1997 National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi.
- 1994 The Art Rental Corporate, Group Michael Ferrier, Échirolles, Grenoble
- 1992 Jehangir Nicholson Museum, National Centre for Performing Arts, Mumbai
- 1992 Courses Arts Lalouvesc, France
- 1991 Gallery Eterso, Cannes Retrospective: 1952-91, Palazzo Carnoles
- 1991 Museum of Menton, France
- 1990 Chemould Gallery, Bombay
- 1988 Chemould Gallery, Bombay; Koloritten Galleri, Stavanger, Norway
- 1987 The Head of the artist, Grenoble
- 1985 Galerie Pierre Parat, Paris
- 1984 Chemould Gallery, Bombay
- 1982 Gallery Loeb, Bern, Switzerland; Gallery JY Noblet, Grenoble
- 1980 Galleriet, Oslo
- Passion: Life and Art of Raza, by Sayed Haider Raza, Ashok Vajpeyi (Ed.). 2005, Rajkamal Books. ISBN 81-267-1040-3.
- Raza: A Life in Art, by Ashok Vajpeyi, 2007, Art Alive Gallery, New Delhi. ISBN 978-81-901844-4-1.
- Bindu: Space and time in Raza's vision, by Geeti Sen. Media Transasia, 1997. ISBN 962-7024-06-6.
- Raza, by Alain Bonfand, Les Éditions de la Différence, Paris, 2008.
(French and English Edition. Lithographs  edited by Éditions de la Différence, Paris)
- Syed Haider Raza turns 85 The Hindu, 21 Feb 2007.
- Painting is like sadhana... dnaindia, 18 September 2005.
- Artist Details Raza at serigraphstudio.com.
- Lalit Kala Ratna Profiles Official list of Awardees at lalitkala.gov.in.
- Padma Bhushan Awardees
- "Padma Awards". pib. 29 January 2013. Retrieved 29 January 2013.
- "Raza work fetches record Rs 16.3cr". Times of India. 11 June 2010. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
- Biography shraza.net, the Official website.
- Artist Bio Raza Retrospective 2007, New York.
- Profiles S H Raza at delhiartgallery.com.
- Profile of the Month Sayed Haider Raza at indianartcircle.com.
- Artist Summary Sayed Haider Raza at artfact.com.
- Artist Background
- Artist Directory S H Raza at art.in.
-  S. H. Raza at vadehraart.com.
- Artist Details Raza at saffronart.com.
- Art & Culture indiaenews.com, 20 February 2008.
- Indian Heroes S. H. Raza at iloveindia.com.
- Raza’s runes: visions of the self Swapna Vora at asianart.com.
- Artist Biography Raza at osbornesamuel.com.
- Retrospective 2007 A Conversation with Raza at saffronart.com.
- Foreword Raza Retrospective, 2007.
- S H Raza reveals plans to open a cultural centre indianartcollectors.com, 7 February 2008.
- Newsmakers The Milli Gazette Online, April 2005.
- Hindustan Times Master strokes, HT City, The Arts, p.10, 23 February 2008.
- Janine Mongillat The Hindu, 9 Apr 2002.