Basharat Bashir

Sayed Haider Raza: Artist and Atwork

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A renowned Indian artist Sayed Haider Raza commonly known as S H Raza was born on 30th March 1922 in Kakkaiya, near town Bichhiya Mandla district of Madhya Pradesh. Recipient of  Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan, Raza took to drawing at the age of 12. He co-founded the revolutionary Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group (PAG) along with K. H. Ara and F. N. Souza.  The group had its first show in 1948. Raza’s work evolved from painting expressionistic landscapes to abstract ones. From his fluent water colours of landscapes and townscapes executed in the early 1940s, he moved toward a more expressive language, painting landscapes of the mind.

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 and Ellora, followed by those to Varanasi, Gujarat and Rajasthan, made him realize his role 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. His later work is commonly associated with the Bindu or the dot. One of the reason that Raza attributed 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. The “Bindu” is related to Indian philosophy of being the point of all creation and what Raza describes as a source of energy and life that begins and attains infinity from a focal point.

One of the reasons that the Bindu’ inspired Raza so much was that he was looking for new inspiration for his art and the idea of Bindu’ which was rooted in Indian culture and history created a new point of creation for him. Mostly geometrical in appearance his work acquired highest spot in Indian modern art with the Bindu’ being the prominent element in most of his works. After the introduction of Bindu’ Raza explored more subjecst and added newer dimensions to his thematic oeuvre in the following decades. The inclusion of  Tribhuj (Triangle) ,which bolstered Indian concepts of space and time,  gave his work  yet another dimension. His transformation from an expressionist to a master of abstraction and profundity, was complete as he endorsed “prakriti-purusha” (the female and the male energy),.

The introduction of Bindu  provided Raza with amazing prospect and truly tied him to his Indian roots and culture. His work created a sense of pride for his culture. The Bindu’ is now widely regarded as a trademark for Raza and he had said in 2010 that “It’s the centre of my life”.

“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”.

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