Modern Indian artist S H Raza 'Yet Again'

Syed Haider Raza who recently turned 93 is the subject of a new book, which gives insight into the life and art of the grand old master of modern Indian art through the eyes of his friends and critics.

"Yet Again," containing nine new essays on Raza has been edited by friend, poet and former chairman of Lalit Kala Akademi Ashok Vajpeyi.

The tome has been brought out by Akar Prakar, the Raza foundation in association with Mapin Publishing.

The nonagenarian artist has led a long painterly life from middle of the 20th century and has been widely acknowledged as a master of modern Indian art.

For nearly six decades his work, vision and life have attracted critical attention from various points of views, his art has been explored and evaluated in many books and collectors of his paintings exist worldwide, says Vajpeyi.

The new book begins with thoughts on Raza's art by critic and poet Ranjit Hoskote who writes about the "Cartographer of lost continents."

Raza's life began in the 1940s with his apprenticeship to academic realism as a student of Sir Jamsetijee Jejeebhoy School of Art in Mumbai. As a founder of the Progressive Artists Group, together with F N Souza, K H Ara, M F Husain and others, Raza passed quickly into an engagement with a stylised reinterpretation of retinal reality in the 1950s.

"Eventually, and after migrating to France, he gravitated towards abstraction, cultivating a symbolist vocabulary; his rhythm of continuous, annual return to India, now culminating in a permanent homecoming, nourished his attentiveness to the teachings of Indic traditions," says Hoskote.

Kishen Khanna, a fellow Progressive Artists' Group member recalls Raza "sitting in one corner of a street in Bombay sketching and painting the streets and houses of localities he was drawn to" and an exhibition of works that Raza painted on a visit to Kashmir. His style, says Khanna was influenced by Walter Langhammer, an exile from Europe.

"At 93, he defies the impediments of age, faces a blank canvas, with a prayer in his heart and brush in his hand ready of the next encounter," says Khanna.

Author and cultural historian Geeti Sen says Raza would not describe his work as 'spiritual' but as 'significant form'.

Born in 1922, after Independence, Raza did not leave for Pakistan as did his first wife and other members of his family, says Vajpeyi. In Paris, Raza met and married a French artist Janinie Mongillat.
Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 
April 7, 2015
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