“My attempt is to create an art which goes beyond time and place.”
—Syed Haider Raza (22 February 1922 – 23 July 2016)
S H Raza, one of India’s leading Modernists, passed away on 23 July 2016 at the age of 94.
Raza was, like his beloved Bindu, a vibrant and essential part of modern art in India. A founding member of the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group, he redefined the notion of Modernism with his deeply spiritual and intellectual quest for artistic expression.
In his formative years, Raza painted landscapes and cityscapes, influenced by his time in France. Frequent visits to India drew him to the vibrant colours of Rajasthan and the forests of his childhood in Madhya Pradesh, both of which he transformed onto his canvases in the form of gestural abstraction.
In the 1970s, Raza changed direction to focus on purely geometric forms, symbolizing myriad aspects of Hindu philosophy. Crucial to these metaphysical paintings was the recurring Bindu – the seed from which all life forms emerge. For Raza, the act of painting itself was a meditative experience, and spirituality was always the core of his art.
Saffronart joins the extended art community in mourning the loss of the master. For more tributes, please see:
Bose Krishnamachari, Times of India: “He understood colour, darkness, light, line, thinness and thickness of layers. He was friends with poets, writers and youngsters and admired by everyone. He led a life of precision.”
Krishen Khanna, Hindustan Times: “One cannot pedal on one pedal for your entire life… Raza always kept reinventing. Every painting he created was a breath of fresh air.”
Ashok Vajpeyi, ET Panache: “Along with his contemporaries, Raza created an alternative spiritual modernism, not built of dissonance or tension but consonance and harmony… In the end, for Raza, the distance between life and work had disappeared. He lived to paint and he painted so he could live on.”