signed and dated 'RAZA '82' (lower center); further signed, dated and inscribed 'RAZA / 1982 / 65 x 50 cm / Acrylique sur toile. / Herwitz Collection' (on the reverse)
acrylic on canvas
25 5/8 x 19 5/8 in. (65.1 x 49.8 cm.)
Painted in 1982
The Collection of Chester and Davida Herwitz
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Indian Art Today - Four Artists from the Chester and Davida Herwitz Family Collection: Laxma Goud, Maqbool Fida Husain, K.G Ramanujam, Sayed Haider Raza, exhibition catalogue, Washington D.C., 1986, p. 61 (illustrated)
Raza: A Retrospective, exhibition catalogue, New York, 2007, p. 85 (illustrated)
A. Bonfand, Raza, Paris, 2008, p. 109 (illustrated)
A. Macklin, S H Raza: Catalogue Raisonné, 1972 - 1989 (Volume II), New Delhi, 2022, p. 331 (illustrated)
Washington D.C., The Phillips Collection, Indian Art Today - Four Artists from the Chester and Davida Herwitz Family Collection: Laxma Goud, Maqbool Fida Husain, K.G Ramanujam, Sayed Haider Raza, 22 February - 6 April, 1986
New York, Saffronart, Raza: A Retrospective, 21 September - 31 October, 2007

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Lot Essay

Following a summer teaching at the University of California in Berkeley in the early 1960s, Sayed Haider Raza’s work increasingly embraced the symbolic power of color. Discernible figurative elements of the landscape seen in his works of the 1950s dissolved in the following decade, and by the early 1980s, when the present lot was painted, the representation of tangible forms was completely replaced by expressionistic explosions of pigment.

During this period, Raza perfected a new sophisticated use of brushstroke and palette that denoted location, emotion and spirituality in place of the visible features of a landscape. His gestural brushwork was painterly not in the sense of texture, but in further expressing the complex emotions the artist associated with the places he depicted, particularly the landscapes of India from his childhood memories and recent visits. Despite living in France, “Physical location did not necessarily mean a spiritual and creative dislocation [...] For him hereafter art was to be his home, reconstructed through memory, resonance and imagination. It was soon to be also his spiritual haven, a space where he could connect with the infinite, the limitless and the timeless” (A. Vajpeyi, Raza, A Life in Art, New Delhi, 2007, p. 98).

Discussing his works from the period, Geeta Kapur noted that it was perhaps with a sense of “nostalgia perhaps of the land he left behind when he settled in Paris, S.H. Raza opted wholeheartedly for the rhapsodic, nature based abstraction. The nostalgia was fierce and the earth was a conflagration of colours” (G. Kapur, Contemporary Indian Art, London, 1982, unpaginated). In the present lot, however, Raza imposes a sense of control on his fiery red and orange brushwork with a solid brown border, reminiscent of the format of the Rajput court paintings he had always admired. It is in works like these that we also see how regimented form emerged in Raza’s oeuvre and began to take over from the artist’s expressive strokes, presaging the advent of geometry as the main organizing principle in his paintings from the mid-1980s onward.

For further discussion of this period of the artist’s work, please see lot 721.

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