This seminal painting by Syed Haider Raza, at almost seven feet square, is a masterpiece of colour and composition. Seamlessly merging his characteristic horizontal bands with elegant obliques, Raza creates an inherent rhythm and elegance in this work making it one of the finest and most striking examples of painting in his oeuvre.
At the root of Syed Haider Raza's paintings lies a strong tie to nature and to the forests of Madhya Pradesh where he was born. Though his works from the 80s and 90s are far from representational, the concept of nature remains pervasive and integral to their composition. Adopting a codified and symbolic language, Raza uses specific shapes and colours to represent different aspects of the natural world making the works intrinsically representative. According to art historian, Geethi Sen, "Geometrical forms are used to map the universe. Here, the vocabulary of pure plastic form acquires an integral purpose: to relate the shape and rhythm of these forms to Nature." (G. Sen, Bindu, p. 118). This work melds the chevron design used by Raza to indicate forests and trees with the colour palette of earth, aptly linked to the work's title, La Terre. Raza's concern with the principles of pure geometry is equalled by his fascination for colour and its potent symbolism. "I have interpreted the universe in terms of five primary colours: black, white, red, blue and yellow. A total chromatic expression can be achieved by mixing primary colours with other secondary colours, such as greens, browns, and ochres. From there you can move to a great austerity of colours till you come to a supreme purity of form." (G. Sen, Bindu: Space and Time in Raza's Vision, New Delhi, 1997, pp. 127-128).