These lots have been imported from outside the EU … Read more "In the furnace of an entirely new passion for colour Raza’s new style was born that was to bring to him international fame in a few short years […] The change of medium and manner were not merely technical but signified a fundamental change of attitude. The scholar, who had measured and calculated, burst through the confines of a limited understanding of colour and space-created-by-colour into a sphere of full realisation. The transformation created such passion that one could best describe this age of Raza as the age of the Lover. This triumphant handling of paint, this living in paint can only be understood as an act of love.” (R. von Leyden, Raza, Sadanga Series, Vakil, Feffer & Simon, Bombay, 1959, p. 19) PROPERTY FROM A CANADIAN PRIVATE COLLECTION

L'Orage (The Tempest)

L'Orage (The Tempest)
signed and dated ‘RAZA ’58’ (lower right); inscribed, titled and dated 'RAZA "L'orage" / P 178-58' (on label on the reverse); bearing Galerie Dresdnere label inscribed and titled 'Sayed Haider Raza / "L'Orage" (The Tempest) / no 326 / 14502' (on the reverse); further inscribed and signed 'Retouched in July-August 1966 / RAZA' (on the stretcher bar)
oil on canvas
57½ X 45 in. (146 x 114.3 cm.)
Painted in 1958
Galerie Dresdnere, Montreal
Private Collection, Toronto
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Lot Essay

One of India’s leading modern masters, Syed Haider Raza was a member of the revolutionary Progressive Artists' Group formed in the year of India's Independence in 1947. Raza left India for France in 1950 to attend the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts and recollects excitedly absorbing the thriving local art scene. He was greatly influenced by the colouration and composition of the Post-Impressionists and of his early experiences travelling through the French countryside.

Having finally seen the work of artists like Cézanne and Gauguin in person, and visited the villages in Provence and the Maritime Alps that inspired these paintings, Raza’s work underwent a dramatic transformation. In addition to abandoning watercolour and gouache for thicker and more tactile oil paint, the artist began to rely more on colour and texture to evoke his experience of the landscape, moving further and further away from recognisable and tangible forms.

According to the critic, Rudolf von Leyden, “The image of Raza’s paintings of his recent period is difficult to define. His paintings still show houses, spires, trees and other elements of landscape emerging out of colour, which is their true element. The ‘subject’ is irrelevant but the ‘image’ persists. Perhaps it was Jacques Lassaigne who found the best description of this image as a world amid the contending powers of darkness and light.” (Raza, Sadanga Series, Vakil, Feffer & Simon, Bombay, 1959, p. 19)

Discernible in Raza's recent pictures are the forms of houses, trees and mountains; but to conclude on the strength of this that they are a literal description of nature would be to misjudge them entirely. Obviously the villages and country-side of Provence and Italy have cast their spell - fleeting or intense, as the case may be - over the artist; but these impressions have only served to precipitate and crystallise an inner landscape whose blandishments have haunted the artist for years, ever since his youthful familiarity with the intricate architecture and luxuriant vegetation of his native land. (Jacques Lassaigne, Raza, exhibition catalogue, Paris, 1958, unpaginated)

Painted two years after Raza became the first foreign artist to win the prestigious Prix de la Critique in Paris, L’Orage represents the epitome of the artist’s experimentation with colour and structure in the 1950s. This painting is one of the artist’s largest and most ambitious works of the period. The white houses and church steeple are still identifiable between the densely forested hillside and the dark blue sky, even though the palette and the application of paint become the key elements of the work. Raza uses gestural brushstrokes and a heavy impasto to build up this stormy autumnal scene, both stylistic devices that foreshadow his later, more abstract landscapes of the 1960s and 70s.

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