S. H. Raza

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Padma Vibhushan
Sayed Haider Raza
Sayed Haider Raza (1995).png
Sayed Haider Raza
Born (1922-02-22)February 22, 1922
Babaria, Central Provinces and Berar, British India
Died July 23, 2016(2016-07-23) (aged 94)
New Delhi, India
Nationality Indian
Known for Painter
Awards Padma Vibhushan (2013)
Padma Bhushan (2007)
Fellow, Lalit Kala Akademi (1981)
Padmshree (1981)
Commander of ligean of honour (2015)
Website www.shraza.net

Sayed Haider "S. H." Raza (22 February 1922 – 23 July 2016) was an Indian painter who lived and worked in France since 1950, while maintaining strong ties with India.[1]

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.[2][3] He was awarded the Padma Shri and Fellowship of the Lalit Kala Akademi[4] in 1981, Padma Bhushan in 2007,[5] and Padma Vibhushan in 2013.[6] He was conferred with the highest French civilian honour, the Commandeur de la Legion d'honneur (Legion of Honour) on July 14, 2015.[7]

He became one of India's priciest modern artist on 10 June 2010 when a seminal work, Saurashtra by the 88-year-old was sold for 16.42 crore ($3,486,965) at a Christie's auction.[8][9]

In 1959 he married the French artist Janine Mongillat, who died in 2002 of cancer, after which he decided to return to India.[10][11]

Early life and education[edit]

Watercolor and gouache painting (1948). Private collection.

Sayed Haider Raza was born in Babaria,[12] Narsinghpur district, Madhya Pradesh, to Sayed Mohammed Razi, the Deputy Forest Ranger of the district and Tahira Begum,[13][14] 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,[15] where he completed his school education from Government High School, Damoh.[16]

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),[17] 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.[18] After his studies, he travelled across Europe, and continued to live and exhibit his work in Paris.[16] He was later awarded the Prix de la critique in Paris in 1956, becoming the first non-French artist to receive the honour.[19]

Art career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Sayed Haider Raza, had his first solo show in 1946 at Bombay Art Society Salon, and was awarded the Silver Medal of the society.[13]

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 toward a more expressive language, painting landscapes of the mind.

1947 proved to be a very important year for him. First, his mother died. Then, he co-founded the revolutionary Bombay Progressive Artists' Group (PAG) (1947–1956) [19] along with K. H. Ara and F.N. Souza.[20] This group set out to break free from the influences of European realism in Indian art and bring Indian inner vision (Antar gyan) into the art,.[21] The group had its first show in 1948.[4] Raza's father died the same year in Mandla. And the majority of his four brothers and 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.[21][22][23] 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 France.

In 1962, he became a visiting lecturer at the University of California in Berkeley, USA.[24] 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.[citation needed]

The 'Bindu' and beyond[edit]

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 to Benaras, Gujarat and Rajasthan, made him realize his role and study Indian culture more closely, the result was 'Bindu',[25] which signified his rebirth as a painter.[26] The Bindu [27][28][29] 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.[30]

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),[31] 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.[21]

Raza abandoned the expressionistic landscape for a geometric abstraction and the 'Bindu'.[4] Raza perceives the Bindu as the center of creation and existence progressing towards forms and color as well as energy, sound, space and time.

His work took another leap in 2000, when he began to express his increasingly deepened insights and thoughts on Indian spiritual, and created works around the Kundalini,[32] Nagas [33] and the Mahabharat.[25][34]

Public contributions[edit]

He has also founded the 'Raza Foundation' in India for promotion of art among Indian youth, which also gives away Annual Raza Foundation Award, to young artists in India .[35]



  • 2010 Flora Jansem Gallery, Raza Ceramiques, Paris
  • 2010 Akar Prakar Art Gallery,Kolkata, Ahmadabad, Jaipur, Delhi, INDIA in 2010
  • 2008 Art Alive Gallery, Delhi, INDIA in 2008
  • Exhibition Magnificent Seven at Art Alive Gallery[36]
  • 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

Further reading[edit]

(French and English Edition. Lithographs [1] edited by Éditions de la Différence, Paris)


  1. ^ Syed Haider Raza turns 85 The Hindu, 21 Feb 2007.
  2. ^ Painting is like sadhana... dnaindia, 18 September 2005.
  3. ^ Artist Details Raza at serigraphstudio.com.
  4. ^ a b c Lalit Kala Ratna Profiles Official list of Awardees at lalitkala.gov.in.
  5. ^ Padma Bhushan Awardees
  6. ^ "Padma Awards". pib. 29 January 2013. Retrieved 29 January 2013. 
  7. ^ "Noted artist Raza conferred highest French civilian honour". The Hindu. 15 July 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2015. 
  8. ^ "Raza work fetches record Rs 16.3cr". Times of India. 11 June 2010. Retrieved 27 January 2013. 
  9. ^ Raza's Saurashtra Artwork and Auction details OSIANAMA.COM
  10. ^ "S H Raza on Tao Art Gallery". www.taoartgallery.com. Tao Art Gallery. Retrieved 28 July 2016. 
  11. ^ "S H Raza dies at 94; end of an era in Modern Indian art - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 28 July 2016. 
  12. ^ Biography shraza.net, the Official website.
  13. ^ a b Artist Bio Raza Retrospective 2007, New York.
  14. ^ Profiles S H Raza at delhiartgallery.com.
  15. ^ Profile of the Month Sayed Haider Raza at indianartcircle.com.
  16. ^ a b Artist Summary Sayed Haider Raza at artfact.com.
  17. ^ Artist Background Archived 9 February 2005 at the Wayback Machine.
  18. ^ Artist Directory S H Raza at art.in.
  19. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 March 2014. Retrieved 2013-05-08. S. H. Raza at vadehraart.com.
  20. ^ Artist Details Raza at saffronart.com.
  21. ^ a b c Art & Culture indiaenews.com, 20 February 2008.
  22. ^ Indian Heroes S. H. Raza at iloveindia.com.
  23. ^ Raza’s runes: visions of the self Swapna Vora at asianart.com.
  24. ^ Artist Biography Raza at osbornesamuel.com.
  25. ^ a b Retrospective 2007 Archived 31 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine. A Conversation with Raza at saffronart.com.
  26. ^ Foreword Raza Retrospective, 2007.
  27. ^ Raza's Bindu Artwork Image and Auction details OSIANAMA.COM
  28. ^ Raza's Bindu Artwork Image and Auction details OSIANAMA.COM
  29. ^ Raza's Bindu Artwork Image and Auction details OSIANAMA.COM
  30. ^ S H Raza reveals plans to open a cultural centre indianartcollectors.com, 7 February 2008.
  31. ^ Raza's Triangles Artwork Image and Auction details OSIANAMA.COM
  32. ^ Raza's Kundalini Artwork Image and Auction details OSIANAMA.COM
  33. ^ Raza's NAGAS Artwork Image and Auction details OSIANAMA.COM
  34. ^ Raza's Maha Bharata Artwork Image and Auction details OSIANAMA.COM
  35. ^ Newsmakers The Milli Gazette Online, April 2005.
  36. ^ "Shows Magnificent Seven". www.artalivegallery.com. Retrieved 1 July 2016. 

External links[edit]

Online Work