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signed and dated 'Raza '99' (lower left); further signed in Hindi and signed, dated, inscribed and titled ‘RAZA / 1999 / 100 x 100 cm / “ANKURAN” / Acrylic on canvas’ (on the reverse)
acrylic on canvas
39 3/8 x 39 3/8 in. (100 x 100 cm.)
Painted in 1999
Osian's Mumbai, 31 January 2007, lot 48
Acquired from the above
A. Vajpeyi (ed.), Understanding Raza: Many Ways of Looking at a Master, New Delhi, 2013, p. 326 (illustrated)

This work will be included in SH RAZA, Catalogue Raisonné, Volume III (1990 - 1999) by Anne Macklin on behalf of The Raza Foundation, New Delhi

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Nishad Avari
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Lot Essay

“When Raza was eight, he was taught at school to meditate on a small black circle that had been drawn on a white wall of the veranda. These simple exercises of concentration that channelled his youthful energy were to become the source of inspiration for his art” (M. Milford-Lutzker, India: Contemporary Art from Northeastern Private Collections, Rutgers, 2002, p. 94).

The small black circle or bindu was an integral part of Sayed Haider Raza’s oeuvre from the late 1970s until his death in 2016. This simple geometric shape dominated his practice for more than three decades, yet its’s origins were rooted in his childhood. Geometry, and its relationship to color, is the basis for a codified and symbolic language for Raza, where powerful shapes and primary colors represent different aspects of the natural world. This sacred geometry cracks open the interpretive space of the image; neither specific to a particular religion, nor bound to a particular geography, Raza’s forms are elemental, primordial and eternal.

In Ankuran, which literally means germination, the bindu appears multiple times, often with a black center. Black is also symbolic of creation, a mother-color from which all others emerge. For Raza, concentric circles and geometric forms were not intended as abstract graphic devices, as in the style of Frank Stella’s geometric works, but as something more fundamental, symbolic of the spiritual and primal. The bindu becomes less of a structural component and more of a central point representing concentrated energy. This element manifests itself in various forms throughout Raza’s oeuvre, and is variously interpreted as zero, a drop, a seed or a sperm – the germination of creation.

The bindu is the focal point for meditation and the principle around which Raza structures his canvases and indeed his entire perception of the universe. Ankuran is divided into seventeen distinct sections, each an individual vignette with a resolved geometric configuration that relates to the larger whole. In structuring this painting in this manner, Raza creates a universe in itself, and offers his viewers a visual key with which to navigate and decode it.

According to Raza, his works from this period are essentially the “result of two parallel enquiries. Firstly, it is aimed at pure plastic order. Secondly, it concerns nature. Both have converged into a single point, the bindu, symbolizing the seed, bearing the potential for all life. It is also a visible form containing all the requisites of line, tone, colour, texture and space” (Artist statement, Artists Today: East West Visual Encounter, Bombay, 1985, p. 18).

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