Syed Haider Raza, a member of the revolutionary Progressive Artist Group, experimented with currents of Western Modernism moving from Expressionist modes towards greater abstraction and eventually incorporating elements of Tantrism borne from Indian scriptural texts. Whereas his fellow contemporaries dealt with more figural subjects, Raza chose to focus on landscapes in the 1940s and 50s, inspired in part by a move to France in 1949.
Enamoured with the bucolic countryside of rural France, this work is part of a series which captures the rolling terrain and quaint village architecture of this region. Showing a foreboding black church jutting into a crimson sky, Raza uses gestural brushstrokes and a heavily impastoed application of paint, stylistic devices which hint at his later 1970s abstractions. This late 50s work is significant in that it represents the turning point between two stages of Raza's artistic development. While subject matter is still recognisable, colour and the application of paint become the key elements of the work overpowering the relevancy of the village scene. What results is "not an outward manifestation of reality as in his earliest works, or the imaginary landscapes in his early gouaches - but the 'real thing', through the substantial realm of colour. It is no longer nature as 'seen' or as 'constructed', but nature as experienced." (G. Sen, Bindu: Space and Time in Raza's Vision, New Delhi, 1997, p. 79).