S H Raza: Seven Decades of Artistic Genius

The year 2022 marks the centenary of India’s seminal and groundbreaking artists S H Raza. Born on 22nd Feb 1922, S H Raza spearheaded the formation of Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group which changed the course of art in India and charted a whole new path for generations of Indian artists. Raza’s works are now a part of the most prestigious collections all over the world. Celebrating the legacy of S H Raza on his 100th birth anniversary, here are seven important works from different decades starting from the 1940s that chart his distinct artistic phases and shed a light on his evolution to becoming a great artist.

Untitled (Street Scene), 1947: S H Raza started his career with idyllic landscapes deftly executed in watercolor and depicting the Indian mainland. This was a formative phase of the artist’s career and this untitled work was executed by the master artist in the same year he co-founded the Progressive Artists’ Group.

Paysage Corse, 1958: After moving to France in 1949, Raza began to work in the styles of the École de Paris. Soon, however, colour overtook construction, and Raza’s landscapes of the French countryside became less about tangible representation and more about the mood they evoked in the artist. This work comes from the decades of the 1950s when Raza began the process of diluting tangible structure in his art. This work titled ‘Paysage Corse’ is from the year 1958 post which his works rarely involved the etching of a structure with architectural lineage.

La Provence Noire, 1965: SH Raza’s magnum opus expressionist creation from the year 1965 titled ‘La Provence Noire,’ sprawls with black. The artwork has thick strokes of black while the suggested iridescent illumination is troughed with a sporadic application of white paint. S H Raza created this work just before he commenced the search for the source of Bindu.

L’Orage (The Storm), 1973: Executed by the artist during an extremely productive phase, this work titled L’Orage (The Storm) is a brilliant example of Raza’s ability to translate the jurisprudence of energy in the purest form. The image established with dark tones resonates with a distinguished sense of velocity. The work is akin to the sensation that permeates through the atmosphere in the midst of a storm.

La Terre, 1980: This work comes from the La Terre series of works by the artist which is symbolic of Raza’s long engagement with nature. This work signifies the evolution of S H Raza’s vocabulary and is from a key transitional phase. The ‘Bindu’ emerged shortly after this work was made, and was the output of the metamorphosis that took place in tandem while the artist created these works that represents his search within.

Sanshari, 1994: This work comes from the ‘Bindu,’ series by the artist for which he is most famous. Rooted in his childhood memories, ‘Bindu’ became the central focus in Raza’s work. “Bindu is a source of energy, a source of life. Life begins here, attains infinity here,” said the artist S.H. Raza about the iconic symbol that dominated his oeuvre for the last three decades of his life.

Tree, 2000: Celebration of Nature has always been at the core of Raza’s work, be it his earlier works of vibrant landscapes or his later work incorporating geometric forms such as shown in this work. With vivid imagery with bold colour palettes outlined by geometric forms, Raza’s works transport the viewer into a deep thought far away into the throes of human melancholia.

About the Author

Sneha Gautam is the resident modern Indian art specialist at AstaGuru. She joined the auction house in 2012 and has over eight years of experience in the art industry. She has become well versed in the intricacies of Indian aesthetics and has developed a knack for spotting the rare gems of modern Indian art. She has created a solid foundation by researching extensively on the history of modern Indian art and is capable of tracing the evolution of the increasing demand for this category amongst collectors both in India and overseas. Sneha contributes to the curation of the modern Indian art auctions at AstaGuru and has successfully been a vital part of over 25 auctions.

One reply on “S H Raza: Seven Decades of Artistic Genius”

Iwant to know more about S.H. Raza’s earlier landscape work, both in monogram and descriptive ways.
thank you

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