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In remembrance of Raza

Over the years, Sayed Haider Raza formed his own subtext for modernism, creating a  repertoire of symbols, colour tonalities, and defined spaces within a vocabulary of global sensibilities.

Uttar Raag is a show that comes as a tribute in memory of Sayed Haider Raza by the Raza Foundation and it opens on July 1, Sunday. "We have chosen works that have been created by Raza Saab during the last few years of his life," says Sanjiv Choube of the Raza Foundation. At the Shridharani Art Gallery, Triveni Kala Sangam, Raza's works form an elegiac echo that brims the sacred chants of subtle gentility and tranquility.

The Paris dweller for 60 years, his last few years in Delhi were spent only painting and you see in these works a flashback of his many periods as if he wanted to traverse the terrain once more. Over the years, Raza formed his own subtext for modernism, creating a repertoire of symbols, colour tonalities, and defined spaces within a vocabulary of global sensibilities.

In this show, there are hints of his early strokes, the images from nature and specifically the forests of Madhya Pradesh which retained a prominent place in his mind long after he left India in 1950. 'Aar Paar' and 'Tree' are two works that exemplify that early phase with the thickness and briskness of the strokes of the brush. Both these works reflect a vast compilation of memories manifested in the balance of both forms as well as formlessness because we know that he maintained a powerful bond with the forests, rivers and the parched earth of India. In those last years, with his fragile body, it was a deeply incandescent experience to watch him painting with his long slender fingers not quite as firm as they used to be. In these few works, we see how he evolved from painting expressionistic landscapes to abstract ones and his geometric abstraction in the Bindu series. His experiments were influenced by the new medium of acrylic, with which he began his new approach and experiments on canvas. Tanmay, Arun Vasant and Aabha are three works that belong to his unforgettable Shanti Bindu series.

These three works have about them a resonance that speaks to us about dawn and dusk, they are about translating from atmospherics a unique energy that doesn't just vibrate with colour but also reflects a subtle softness that is bathed in the dynamism of light. In his last years his work was deeply representational, the combination of bright scorching colours and soft transparent brushstrokes succeed in invoking the vibrancy and spirit of both the sacred spirit of life as it transcends time and speaks to us about the life cycle, the constant emanating core of creation reflected in his search and quest for the eternal Bindu.

In an interview spread over 5 days in 2015, Raza said: "The Bindu is the seed, the germ, the core, and it gives birth to the fecundity of the world. When I create the black Bindu it is a cosmic force, the sole energy for the universe or for instance. When you see my Bindu disturbed, it is because of the troubles and tribulations and the disturbance that you see in Purush Prakriti."

According to Raza, "The point, the bindu, symbolizes the seed-bearing the potential of all life, in a sense. It's also a visible form containing all the essential requisites of line, tone, colour, gesture, and space." The concentric circle becomes more of a central point representing concentrated energy as well as rippling of memories and moments that pass through the tide of time. The Bindu that manifested itself in various forms throughout Raza's works were the genesis of creation as well as a focal point of meditation. This show is a must visit for art lovers and will run till July 10.

Uma Nair

Uma Nair

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