New DelhiAn exhibition, "Parikrama: Around Gandhi" at the Vadehra Art Gallery in New Delhi is paying tribute to the Indian contemporary master, S.H. Raza, one of the last few survivors of the Progressive Artists Group with a display f his new works post 2010 on the occasion of his 92nd birthday. Raza had returned to India in 2010 after spending nearly 60 years in France.
The art works are inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation, who changed the destiny of India's freedom struggle with his ideology of "ahimsa" and "Swaraj". S.H. Raza saw Mahatma Gandhi in a public meeting in Mandla, his hometown in Madhya Pradesh, when he was eight years old. This ‘darshan’ left an indelible mark on him. Whenever he visited Delhi from Paris between 1950 and 2010, Raza visited Rajghat to pay respect to Gandhi at his memorial along the Yamuna river.
He has always been inspired by Gandhian concepts and words. Since his return to Delhi, Raza has been working on a series inspired by the teachings of Gandhi. He explores them in his own inimitable style without falling into traps of representation or illustration. They are tributes to a great human being by a master. In conjunction with the exhibition and the artist’s birthday, Vadehra Art Gallery in association with The Raza Foundation will release two books Raza: A Journey of the Master and Geysers.
"Raza: A Journey of the Master" is a collectors’ tome with 100 large high quality prints of the artist’s important works. A limited number of books will have prints with the artist’s signature on it. "Geysers" is an athology of correspondence between Raza and fellow artists and critic friends: Akbar Padamsee, Bal Chhabda, E. Schlesinger, FN Souza, Gaintonde, Laxman Pai, MF Husain, Ram Kumar, RV Leyden, Tyeb Mehta and Walter Langhammar.
"Raza is a great colourist as well as a master of form. Not many artists in the world can orchestrate colours the way he can akin to a composer who conducts various musicians effortlessly.Fascinating is that ,there is a tonality so masterfully achieved on the canvas,which not only happens automatically but is also rooted in his in-depth study of Indology, from where the concept of seed or Bindu comes which ultimately gives rise to the entire universe," managing director of the Vadehra Art Gallery Arun Vadehra said.
SH Raza was born in Babaria, Madhya Pradesh, in 1922. He painted nature around his hometown in his childhood— away from the dust and din of the playground. A reticent child, Raza liked to spend time amid nature rather than go to school. As a young man, he moved to Mumbai to study at Sir JJ School of Art, Mumbai, and later at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Paris. He was influenced by the European impressionists — whose landcape interpretations coloured his initial canvases. In the 1970s, Raza began to tire of the western idioms of landscapings and look for creative life force in Oriental philosophy. His oeuvre witnessed a transformation under the influence of spiritual studies — and Hindusim.
Raza diiscovered the karmic significance of the "bindu" or the dot as the root of his new artistic expression - and changed the language of his art to interpret spirituality on his canvas with the "bindu", mandala circles, squares, cubes and abstract religious patterns to explore the cycle of life and its cosmic links. For the last four decades, Raza has been eperimenting with the "bindu" as the source of creative energy.
His has been honoured with the Padma Bhushan 2007); Lalit Kala Ratna Puraskar by Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi (2004); Padma Shri by the Government of India (1981); the Kalidas Sanman National Award by Government of Madhya Pradesh (1981); the Prix de la Critique (1956); the Gold Medal by Bombay Art Society (1948); the Silver Medal Bombay Art Society (1946).