Untitled (Houses)

Untitled (Houses)
signed and dated 'RAZA '53' (lower left)
charcoal on paper
19 ½ x 25 in (49.5 x 63.5 cm.)
Executed in 1953
Sotheby's New York, 24 September 2004, lot 146
Acquired from the above
This work will be included in S.H Raza: Catalogue Raisonné - Early Works (1939-1957) by Anne Macklin on behalf of The Raza Foundation, New Delhi
Sale room notice
Please note that this work will be included in S.H Raza: Catalogue Raisonné - Early Works (1939-1957) by Anne Macklin on behalf of The Raza Foundation, New Delhi

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Lot Essay

After his initial artistic training and becoming a founding member of the revolutionary Bombay Progressive Artists' Group in 1947, Sayed Haider Raza left India for France, arriving in Paris in October 1950 to attend the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts.

Finally seeing the paintings of artists like Matisse, Cézanne and Gauguin in person, Raza’s work underwent a dramatic transformation in Paris. In the early 1950s, he produced a series of experimental works on paper reflecting the city from the vantage point of his first studio, a modest space in the garret of an old house on Rue de Fosseés St. Jacques. In this monochromatic charcoal sketch from 1953, the artist confidently portrays two strings of flattened cubistic houses using the simplest of lines to suggest their walls and roofs. Surrounded by these nondescript structures, a larger and more prominent church is easily distinguished by its spire and the crucifix that stands beside it.

As the artist notes, his early years in Paris provided him with experiences and tools that were essential in building the strong foundations upon which his practice developed and evolved. "France gave me several acquisitions. First of all, ‘le sens plastique’, by which I mean a certain understanding of the vital elements in painting. Second, a measure of clear thinking and rationality. The third, which follows from this proposition, is a sense of order and proportion in form and structure. Lastly, France has given me a sense of savior vivre: the ability to perceive and to follow a certain discerning quality in life” (Artist statement, G. Sen, Bindu: Space and Time in Razas Vision, New Delhi, 1997, p. 57).

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