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La Terre

La Terre
signed, dated, titled and inscribed 'RAZA / 1984 / "La Terre" / 100 x 100 cm' (on the reverse)
acrylic on canvas
39½ x 39½ in. (100.3 x 100.3 cm.)
Painted in 1984
Saffronart, 10 May 2006, lot 8
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Damian Vesey
Damian Vesey

Lot Essay

“I moved to a new period in the eighties. The language of your painting changes when you start listening to silence. Within the silence of solitude, the inner landscape of the human mind moves into another pathway. I learnt to understand polarities-the co-existence of opposites that complement even as they exist. Life and death, man and woman, black and white – everything has a different rhythm. I realised how poetry can contain few words and say so much. Painting became the metaphor of life itself.” (Artist Statement, A. Vajpeyi, A Life in Art: RAZA, New Delhi, 2007, p. 345)

La Terre, or the Earth, represents a breakthrough period for Raza, as he negotiated the critical transition in his oeuvre from the more gestural abstraction of the 1970s to the geometric pictorial structures that came to dominate his works from the 1990s onwards.

Although these works are far from representational, the concept of nature remains pervasive and integral to their composition. Here, the earth is inspired by memories from the artist’s youth in Central India, and conceived in a warm palette of burnt sienna, ochre, olive and brown. Although Raza spent over 60 years of his artistic career living in France, India and its landscape always resonated within him and his practice. He recalls, “I have never really left the deep rooted, wonderful world of the forest and rambling river, hill and sparkling stream. The time spent as nature’s child. You see, we lived in the country's core, in Barbaria, Madhya Pradesh, where my father was a forest ranger, in the Mandla afterwards. The lush Kanha thickets were my regular haunt. Highly impressionable at that tender age, I soaked in every single feature of that beautiful landscape.” (Artist Statement, Y. Dalmia, ‘Journeys with the Black Sun’, Understanding Raza: Many Ways of Looking at a Master, New Delhi, p. 49)

The holistic qualities of the painting invoke a deep sense of the land stretching beyond the relegated borders of the canvas and extending into infinity. The warmth of the colours against the horizontal and diagonal planes lends depth to the composition, which becomes a symbolic expression of the luminous brightness of the sun and the deep and warm Indian night.

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