In the late 1970s, Syed Haider Raza’s style of painting changed dramatically. Moving away from the gestural brushstrokes which characterized his landscapes, Raza began to use a primary palette and basic geometric forms as compositional elements. In a strictly formal sense, these geometrical works seems to bear some resemblance to the paintings of Frank Stella and Kenneth Noland. However, while these artists were part of a theoretical discussion on the Formalist movement, Raza’s work addresses a more spiritual context.
According to Raza, his work is 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, which symbolises 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, U. Bickelmann and N. Ezekiel eds., Artists Today: East-West Visual Arts Encounter, Marg Publications, Mumbai, 1987, p. 18)
Although it has appeared in his early works as the black sun, the realization of the innate force of the bindu became an integral part of Raza’s oeuvre in the late 1970s. The bindu, a black orb pulsating with concentrated energy, manifests itself in various forms throughout Raza’s more recent work and can be variously interpreted as zero, a void or a seed. Paired with other geometric symbols like inverted triangles symbolizing fertility and growth, the bindu represents both the genesis of creation and its ultimate end. Formally, with its age-old precedents in meditative aids such as yantras and mandalas, it becomes the compositional construct around which Raza structures his canvases such as this 1993 painting. “When I paint the bindu I am aware that I am literally in the womb of time, with no disturbance of sound or sight and that I am creating a spark of divinity.” (Artist statement, K. Singh, ed., Continuum: The Progressive Artists Group, New Delhi, 2011, p. 156)