SYED HAIDER RAZA (1922-2016)
Untitled (Village dans un Paysage)
signed and dated 'RAZA '55' (lower right)
oil on board
21 ¾ x 28 in. (55.2 x 71.1 cm.)
Painted in 1955
Private Collection, France
Acquired from the above by the present owner

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Nishad Avari
Nishad Avari

Lot Essay

One of India's leading modern masters, Syed Haider Raza was a founding member of the revolutionary Bombay Progressive Artists' group formed in 1947, the year of India's Independence. A few years later, Raza left India for France, arriving in Paris in October 1950 to attend the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts.

The mid 1950s marked a period of experimentation in Raza's body of work, where the artist strove to reconcile his personal vocabulary and the artistic sensibilities of his homeland with the academic and modernist aesthetics in which he had immersed himself in the West. Untitled (Village dans un Paysage), painted in 1955 only a few years after Raza’s arrival in France, captures this critical point of transition in his oeuvre. Here, Raza's rigid lines of the early 1950s dissolve as the artist liberates his forms from the almost Cubist constructions that had dominated his practice. Using bold, primary colors, this composition is neatly sectioned by the spreading branches of a dark tree in the foreground. On the left, the rooftops and steeples of a small French village sit quiet under the midnight blue sky. On the right, however, the ground is blood-red, with what appears to be either a boat setting sail or the calvaire (calvary) of the village in extreme close-up. This painting represents a moment of departure, as Raza embraced a new visual idiom in which the landscape remained the principle protagonist, but was expressed through color as a function of the emotions it evoked in the artist rather than through its visual components.

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