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Syed Haider Raza (b. 1922)
Signed and dated 'Raza '75' lower right and further signed, dated and inscribed 'RAZA 1975 40p' on reverse
Oil on canvas
39 3/8 x 28¾ in. (100 x 73 cm.)

Lot Essay

Images from nature and specifically the forests of Madhya Pradesh retain a prominent place in Raza's mind long after he left India in 1950. His frequent visits back starting from the 1960's contributed to a vast compilation of memories that would manifest themselves in various forms over the next two decades. He maintains an intense and powerful bond with the forests, rivers and parched earth of India. Although the paintings are non-representational, the combination of bright scorching colors and powerful brushstrokes succeed in invoking the vibrancy and spirit of both the Indian landscape and its people.

This painting can be classified with Raza's Rajasthan series that spanned the majority of the 1970's and early 1980's. 'Rajasthan becomes a metaphor for the colors of the India: of vibrant greens and vermilion and ochres, as also blacks. Rajasthan is the mapping out of a metaphorical space in the mind which is then enclosed with a broad border in vermilon... The image becomes thus enshrined as an icon, as sacred geography.' (Geeti Sen, Bindu: Space and Time in Raza's Vision, New Delhi, 1997, p. 98.)

The format of this work is just beginning to show this slightly ordered 'architectural foundation' (Daniel Herwitz, 'Indian Art from a Contemporary Perspective', Indian Art Today, Washington, 1986, p. 20.) at the upper and lower edge of the canvas. As these paintings develop, the canvas becomes more structured and is arranged loosely into diagrams reminiscent of Tantric art.

Here, the majority of the painting still has the 'crowded pattern of lines, semi-abstract forms, and rich red, black and orange color fields which reverberate with musical motion and mood. Everything inside the edge is alive with counterpoint and dramatic cadence. It is as if the edge functions not unlike the repeating cycle of beats in a Raga - as an architectural basis' upon which further development is generated. (Daniel Herwitz, ibid.)

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