To commemorate the birth centenary of late artist Sayed Haider Raza (1922- 2016), art gallery Akar Prakar is hosting a solo show of the acclaimed artist titled Dance of the Elements, which largely constitutes his Panchtatva series that centers around the Bindu motif.
To understand Raza’s preoccupation with the motif, the paintings in his end years hold the clue, as art critic Ranjit Hoskote had indicated in his artist statement, “We are drawn to the sonic dimension in Raza’s late work: the articulation of light as sound, the universe manifesting its presence as beat and cadence. Aalok, rendered as a concentric array of circles radiating outwards from a central source, is both radiance and resonance. Laya is a concentric array elaborated into an Orphist kaleidoscope of scintillating colour units, intuitively pointing us towards the circling and gathering patterns of dance,” Hoskote had explained.
“In 2013, Raza painted seven paintings that featured only text, thoughts and sayings, by Mahatma Gandhi as a tribute to Gandhi and in 2017 a book titled Gandhi in Raza was brought out. When I requested him to paint more apart from the text, he said ‘I cannot impose, Gandhi stands by himself,’” recalls Reena Lath, Founder, Akar Prakar Gallery, in a conversation with The Morning Standard. “We liked the works so much that we kept two for ourselves,” adds Lath. Throughout his life, Raza chose to stand on his ideas of self-discovery. Born in Madhya Pradesh, he studied painting at the Nagpur School of Art and the Sir J.J.School of Art.
After receiving a French government scholarship in 1950, he left for Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts, Paris. Raza was awarded the Prix de la Critique in Paris in 1956. He was one of the founders of the Progressive Artists’ Group, along with K H Ara and FN Souza the group which pioneered an era of Indian art on the global canvas.
Raza, a Padma Vibhushan, was also elected Fellow of the Lalit Kala Akademi in 1983 and in 1997, was awarded the Madhya Pradesh Government’s prestigious Kalidas Samman. Lath recounts his experience of meeting the artist.
“It was an honour to meet and know Raza Saab. He had an aura about him. He was tall and handsome with the most exquisite hands. His persona as a modern master often overtook his personality, which was gentle, full of humility, and grace.” She further elucidates his spirit of commitment towards his art.
“Raza was a very intelligent man and though his body became weak towards the last days, he painted every day several hours in the morning and in the evening, each time beginning his painting with a prayerful bow, and folding of his hands; painting was his meditation, it was the language with which he spoke the most eloquently and expressed himself. It was clear that was his purpose of life, his swadharma. How many of us can find our purpose and our swadharma and commit to it single-mindedly as Raza did?” asks Lath.
At: Akar Prakar, D-43, Defence Colony
Till: March 14