B. 1922 D. 2016
SH Raza has formed his own text for modernism creating a large repertoire of symbols, colour tonalities, extended spaces and a unique vocabulary by incorporating international sensibilities.
Images from nature and specifically the forests of Madhya Pradesh retained a prominent place in his mind long after he left India in 1950. He left for Paris on a French Government scholarship and studied painting at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts in Paris from 1950 to 1953. His frequent visits back starting from the 1960s contributed to a vast compilation of memories that would manifest themselves in various forms over the next two decades. He maintained an intense and powerful bond with the forests, rivers and the parched earth of India.
In the 1940s when Raza was pursuing his diploma at the JJ School of Art, images of the large metropolis of Bombay became his first sources of inspiration. He evolved from painting expressionistic landscapes to abstract ones and from his fluent watercolours of landscapes and townscapes executed in the early 40's he moved towards a more expressive language painting landscapes of the mind. Raza abandoned the expressionistic landscape for a geometric abstraction and the Bindu series. His experiments were influenced by the new medium of acrylic, with which he began his new approach and experiments on canvas. His canvases from the 60s and 70s can be viewed as works in transition of both using abstraction and figurative and the way of treating the canvas.
The unique energy vibrating with colour in his early landscapes became more subtle later on but equally if not more, dynamic. Although the paintings are non-representational, the combination of bright scorching colours and powerful brushstrokes succeed in invoking the vibrancy and spirit of both the Indian language and its people. The constant emanating core of creation became inculcated in his works like Bindu, Summer, Earth. According to Raza, the Bindu is the seed, the germ, the core, and it gives birth to the fecundity of the world. The black Bindu becomes cosmic force, the sole energy for the universe or for instance, Summer, in tones of yellows expresses a certain mood of saturation. This constant core of creation imbued his work with new territories. According to Raza, “The point, the Bindu, symbolizes the seed bearing the potential of all life, in a sense. Its also a visible form containing all the essential requisites of line, tone, colour, gesture and space.” The circle becomes more of a central point representing concentrated energy. This circle of Bindu manifests itself in various forms throughout Raza’s works where the Bindu can be seen as the point or genesis of creation as well as a focal point of meditation. His paintings from 1970s are more gestural in technique and expression, even in terms of colours exuding its spontaneity.