Sayed Haider "S. H." Raza (22 February 1922 – 23 July 2016) was an Indian painter who lived and worked in France since 1950, while maintaining strong ties with India.[1]

He was a renowned Indian artist. His works are mainly abstracts in oil or acrylic, with a very rich use of color, replete with icons from Indian cosmology as well as its philosophy.[2][3] He was awarded the Padma Shri and Fellowship of the Lalit Kala Akademi[4] in 1981, Padma Bhushan in 2007,[5] and Padma Vibhushan in 2013.[6] He was conferred with the highest French civilian honour, the Commandeur de la Legion d'honneur (Legion of Honour) on July 14, 2015.[7]

He became one of India's priciest modern artist on 10 June 2010 when a seminal work, Saurashtra by the 88-year-old was sold for 16.42 crore ($3,486,965) at a Christie's auction.[8][9]

In 1959 he married the French artist Janine Mongillat, who died in 2002 of cancer, in 2010 he decided to return to India.[10][11]

Early life and education

Watercolor and gouache painting (1948). Private collection.

Sayed Haider Raza was born in Babaria,[12] Narsinghpur district, Madhya Pradesh, to Sayed Mohammed Razi, the Deputy Forest Ranger of the district and Tahira Begum,[13][14] and it was here that he spent his early years and took to drawing at age 12; before moving to Damoh also in Madhya Pradesh at 13,[15] where he completed his school education from Government High School, Damoh.[16]

After high school, he studied further at the Nagpur School of Art, Nagpur (1939–43), followed by Sir J. J. School of Art, Bombay (1943–47),[17] before moving to France in October 1950 to study at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts (ENSB-A) in Paris, 1950-1953 on a Govt. of France scholarship.[18] After his studies, he travelled across Europe, and continued to live and exhibit his work in Paris.[16] He was later awarded the Prix de la critique in Paris in 1956, becoming the first non-French artist to receive the honour.[19]

Art career

Early career

Sayed Haider Raza, had his first solo show in 1946 at Bombay Art Society Salon, and was awarded the Silver Medal of the society.[13]

His work evolved from painting expressionistic landscapes to abstract ones. From his fluent water colours of landscapes and townscapes executed in the early 40's, he moved toward a more expressive language, painting landscapes of the mind.

1947 proved to be a very important year for him. First, his mother died. Then, he co-founded the revolutionary Bombay Progressive Artists' Group (PAG) (1947–1956) [19] along with K. H. Ara and F.N. Souza.[20] This group set out to break free from the influences of European realism in Indian art and bring Indian inner vision (Antar gyan) into the art,.[21] The group had its first show in 1948.[4] Raza's father died the same year in Mandla. And the majority of his four brothers and sister, migrated to Pakistan, after the partition of India.

Once in France, he continued to experiment with currents of Western Modernism, moving from Expressionist modes towards greater abstraction and eventually incorporating elements of Tantrism from Indian scriptures.[21][22][23] 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 1962, he became a visiting lecturer at the University of California in Berkeley, USA.[24] Raza was initially enamored of the bucolic countryside of rural France. Eglise is part of a series which captures the rolling terrain and quaint village architecture of this region. Showing a tumultuous church engulfed by an inky blue night sky, Raza uses gestural brushstrokes and a heavily impasto-ed application of paint, stylistic devices which hint at his later 1970s abstractions.[citation needed]

The 'Bindu' and beyond

By the 1970s Raza had grown increasingly unhappy and restless with his own work and wanted to find a new direction and deeper authenticity in his work, and move away from what he called the 'plastic art'. His trips to India, especially to caves of Ajanta - Ellora, followed by those to Benaras, Gujarat and Rajasthan, made him realize his role and study Indian culture more closely, the result was 'Bindu',[25] which signified his rebirth as a painter.[26] The Bindu [27][28][29] came forth in 1980, and took his work deeper and brought in, his new-found Indian vision and Indian ethnography. One of the reasons he attributes to the origin of the 'Bindu', have been his elementary school teacher, who on finding him lacking adequate concentration, drew a dot on the blackboard and asked him to concentrate on it.[30]

After the introduction of 'Bindu' (a point or the source of energy), he added newer dimensions to his thematic oeuvre in the following decades, with the inclusion of themes around the Tribhuj (Triangle),[31] which bolstered Indian concepts of space and time, as well as that of 'prakriti-purusha' (the female and the male energy), his transformation from an expressionist to a master of abstraction and profundity, was complete.[21]

Raza abandoned the expressionistic landscape for a geometric abstraction and the 'Bindu'.[4] Raza perceives the Bindu as the center of creation and existence progressing towards forms and color as well as energy, sound, space and time.

His work took another leap in 2000, when he began to express his increasingly deepened insights and thoughts on Indian spiritual, and created works around the Kundalini,[32] Nagas [33] and the Mahabharat.[25][34]

Public contributions

He has also founded the 'Raza Foundation' in India for promotion of art among Indian youth, which also gives away Annual Raza Foundation Award, to young artists in India .[35] Few months after his passing Raza Committee has been created in Paris in 2016, to gather knowledge about Sayed Haider Raza, to promote, save and protect his work. The Committee does cooperate with any entity having a close object in relation to SH Raza.


Solo exhibitions

  • 2016 Nirantar, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata
  • 2015, Galerie Lara Vincy, Paris, "Raza: Paintings"
  • 2015, Akar Prakar, Kolkata, "Aarambh – Raza at 93"
  • 2015, Art Musings, Mumbai, "Aarambh @ 93: Solo Show of SH Raza"
  • 2014, Grosvenor Vadehra, London, "SH Raza – Pyaas"
  • 2014, Sovereign FZE, Dubai, "Raza: Paysage, Select Works 1950s – 1970s"
  • 2014, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, "SH Raza - Parikrama – Around Gandhi"
  • 2013, Akar Prakar, Kolkata, "Shabd- bindu – A show of recent works by SH Raza & poetry by Ashok Vajpeyi"
  • 2013, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, "Antardhwani"
  • 2012, ICIA, The Art Trust, Mumbai, "SH Raza – Solo Show"
  • 2012, Art Musings, Mumbai, "SH Raza: Vistaar"
  • 2012, Grosvenor Gallery, London, "Bindu Vistaar"
  • 2011, Vadehra Art Gallery & Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, "SH Raza, Punaraagman"
  • 2010 Flora Jansem Gallery, Raza Ceramiques, Paris
  • 2010, Galerie Patrice Trigano, Paris, "Sayed Haider Raza, Œuvres 1950-2001"
  • 2010 Akar Prakar Art Gallery,Kolkata, Ahmadabad, Jaipur, Delhi, INDIA in 2010
  • 2010, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, "Recent Works – SH Raza"
  • 2008 Art Alive Gallery, Delhi, India in 2008
  • Exhibition Magnificent Seven at Art Alive Gallery[36]
  • 2007, Ayran Art Gallery, Mumbai, New Delhi, Hong Kong, "SH Raza - Celebrating 85 Years of living Legend"
  • 2007, RL Fine ARTS, New York, "SH Raza: Master of Colors – Selected Works"
  • 2007, The Arts Trust at the ICIA, Mumbai, "SH Raza- Solo Show"
  • 2007, National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, "Swati – S.H. Raza"
  • 2006, TAO Art Gallery, Mumbai, "Rang Ras – S.H. Raza"
  • 2006, RL Fine Arts, New York, SH Raza: Selected Works
  • 2006, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, "Raza"
  • 2006, Hong Kong, Aryan Art Gallery, "Raza: Metamorphosis"
  • 2005, Aryan Art Gallery, New Delhi, "Raza – Recent Works"
  • 2005, Saffronart & Berkeley Square Gallery, London & New York, "SH Raza: Summer 2005"
  • 2004, Art Musings, Mumbai, "SH Raza"
  • 2003, Berlin, The Fine Art Resource, "SH Raza: Paintings from 1996 to 2003"
  • 2001, Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi, "Mindscapes: The Sacred Search: a select collection of works from 1951- 2002 by Raza"
  • 1999, Gallery 54, New York, "Raza"
  • 1997 Roopankar Museum of Fine Arts, Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal
  • 1997 Jehangir Art Gallery Mumbai
  • 1997 National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi.
  • 1997, Vadhera Art Gallery & Chemould Gallery, Bhopal, Mumbai & New Delhi, "Raza: Avartan 1991-1996"
  • 1994 The Art Rental Corporate, Group Michael Ferrier, Échirolles, Grenoble
  • 1992 Jehangir Nicholson Museum, National Centre for Performing Arts, Mumbai
  • 1992 Courses Arts Lalouvesc, France
  • 1991 Gallery Eterso, Cannes, "Bindu ou la quête de l'essentiel", June 28 -August 17
  • 1991, Palais de Carnolès, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Menton, "Raza: Rétrospective 1952-1991"
  • 1991 Chemould Gallery, Bombay, "Raza Anthology 1980-1990"
  • 1988 Chemould Gallery, Bombay; Koloritten Galleri, Stavanger, Norway
  • 1987 The Head of the artist, Grenoble
  • 1985 Galerie Pierre Parat, Paris
  • 1984 Chemould Gallery, Bombay
  • 1982 Gallery Loeb, Bern, Switzerland; Gallery JY Noblet, Grenoble
  • 1980 Galleriet, Oslo
  • 1976 Mumbai, Gallery Chemould at the Jehangir Art Gallery, Raza, 26 February – 1 March 1976.
  • 1975 Sanremo, Galleria Matuzia, Raza, 4 – 31 October 1975.
  • 1969 Paris, Galerie Lara Vincy, Raza: Peintures Recentes, 27 November 1969 – 5 January 1970.
  • 1968 Bombay, Gallery Chemould, Raza, 15 – 27 April 1968.
  • 1968 Toronto, Gallery Dresdnere, Raza – Recent Oil Paintings, 25 October – 9 November 1968.
  • 1968 Cologne, Dom Galerie, Sayed Haider Raza, 26 March – 4 May 1968.
  • 1967 Paris, Galerie Lara Vincy, 1967.
  • 1966 Düsseldorf, Tecta Galerie, Raza – Paris: 25 Oil Paintings from 1962- 1966, 6 October – 10 November 1966.
  • 1963 Cologne, Dom Galerie, Raza, June – July 1963.
  • 1964 Paris, Galerie Lara Vincy, Raza: Peintures récentes, 18 November 1964 – 10 January 1965.
  • 1962 Galerie Dresdnere, Montreal
  • 1962 Galerie Lara Vincy, Paris, Raza, 15 July 1962.
  • 1961 Paris, Galerie Lara Vincy, Raza, 19 April- 18 May 1961.
  • 1960 Montreal, Galerie Dresdnere, Autumn 1960.
  • 1959 Montreal, Galerie Dresdnere, Raza: Peintures et Gouaches, 5th – 19th MAY 1959.
  • 1958 Galerie Lara Vincy, Paris, "Raza - Prix de la Critique 1956. Peintures et gouaches" (April–May)
  • 1956 Galerie Saint-Placide, Paris, "Raza"
  • 1950 Charles Petrat's Institute of foreign Languages, Mumbai (September)
  • 1950 The IFL International Centre, Bombay, "SH Raza: Farewell Exhibition of Paintings" (September)
  • 1948 Exhibition Hall, New Delhi, "Raza: 100 paintings of Kashmir", organised by Rudolf Von Leyden, (September)
  • 1947 Bombay Art Society, "Raza's Watercolour Landscapes", (November)
  • 1946 First solo exhibition at the Bombay Art Society Salon

Selected Biennales

  • 1956 Venice Biennale, Italy.
  • 1957 Biennale 57, Pavillon de Marsan, Paris, France.
  • 1958 Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil.
  • 1958 Biennale, Brussels, Belgium.
  • 1958 Biennale of Young Contemporary Painters, Bruges, Belgium.
  • 1958 Venice Biennale, Italy.
  • 1961 Biennale of Tokyo, Japan.
  • 1962 Salon Comparaisons, Paris, France.
  • 1963 Biennale du Maroc, Rabat, Morocco.
  • 1964 Biennale de Menton, France.
  • 1966 Biennale de Menton, France.
  • 1966 Salon Comparaisons, Paris.
  • 1968 Biennale de Menton, France.
  • 1972 Biennale de Menton, France.
  • 1976 Biennale de Menton, France.
  • 1978 Biennale de Menton, France.
  • 1986 Bienal de la Habana, Havana, Cuba

Further reading

  • Jacques Lassaigne, "Raza", in Cimaise, n°79, Paris, janvier-février-mars 1967
  • "Raza: Text-Interview-Poetry, Ravi Kumar" by ashok Vajpeyi, New Delhi, 2002.
  • "Raza. An Introduction to his Painting", by Michel Imbert, Rainbow Publishers, Noida, 2003.
  • "Atma Ka Taap", by Rajkamal Prakashan, S.H. Raza et Ashok Vajpeyi, New Delhi, 2004.
  • Passion....Life and Art of Raza, by Sayed Haider Raza, Ashok Vajpeyi (Ed.). 2005, Rajkamal Books. ISBN 81-267-1040-3.
  • Raza: A Life in Art, by Ashok Vajpeyi, 2007, Art Alive Gallery, New Delhi. ISBN 978-81-901844-4-1.
  • "Mandalas", by Olivier Germain-Thomas, Art Alive Gallery, 2009 (originally published in French by Albin Michel, Paris, 2004)
  • Bindu: Space and time in Raza's vision, by Geeti Sen. Media Transasia, 1997. ISBN 962-7024-06-6.
  • "A Life in Art: S.H. Raza", by Ashok Vajpeyi, Art Alive Masters Series Books, New Delhi, 2007
  • Raza by Alain Bonfand, Les Éditions de la Différence, Paris, 2008. (French and English Edition. Lithographs [1] edited by Éditions de la Différence, Paris)
  • "SH Raza: Vistaar", by Ranjit Hoskote, Ashok Vajpeyi, Yashodhara Dalmia and Avni Doshi, Afterimage Publishing, Mumbai, 2012.
  • "My Dear: Letters Between Sayed Haider Raza & Krishen Khanna", Ashok Vajpeyi, The Raza Correspondence, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, 2013.
  • "Understanding Raza: Many Ways of Looking at a Master", Ashok Vajpeyi (ed.), Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, 2013.
  • SH Raza: The Journey of a Master", published by Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, 2014.
  • 'Yet Again: Nine New Essays on Raza", by Ashok Vajpeyi, Mapin Publishing Pvt, Ahmedabad, India, 2015.


  1. ^ Syed Haider Raza turns 85 The Hindu, 21 Feb 2007.
  2. ^ Painting is like sadhana... dnaindia, 18 September 2005.
  3. ^ Artist Details Archived 12 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine. Raza at serigraphstudio.com.
  4. ^ a b c Lalit Kala Ratna Profiles Archived 5 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine. Official list of Awardees at lalitkala.gov.in.
  5. ^ Padma Bhushan Awardees
  6. ^ "Padma Awards". pib. 29 January 2013. Retrieved 29 January 2013. 
  7. ^ "Noted artist Raza conferred highest French civilian honour". The Hindu. 15 July 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2015. 
  8. ^ "Raza work fetches record Rs 16.3cr". Times of India. 11 June 2010. Retrieved 27 January 2013. 
  9. ^ Raza's Saurashtra Artwork and Auction details OSIANAMA.COM
  10. ^ "S H Raza on Tao Art Gallery". www.taoartgallery.com. Tao Art Gallery. Retrieved 28 July 2016. 
  11. ^ "S H Raza dies at 94; end of an era in Modern Indian art - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 28 July 2016. 
  12. ^ Biography Archived 8 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine. shraza.net, the Official website.
  13. ^ a b Artist Bio Archived 6 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine. Raza Retrospective 2007, New York.
  14. ^ Profiles Archived 30 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine. S H Raza at delhiartgallery.com.
  15. ^ Profile of the Month Sayed Haider Raza at indianartcircle.com.
  16. ^ a b Artist Summary Sayed Haider Raza at artfact.com.
  17. ^ Artist Background Archived 9 February 2005 at the Wayback Machine.
  18. ^ Artist Directory S H Raza at art.in.
  19. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 March 2014. Retrieved 2013-05-08. S. H. Raza at vadehraart.com.
  20. ^ Artist Details Archived 10 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine. Raza at saffronart.com.
  21. ^ a b c Art & Culture indiaenews.com, 20 February 2008.
  22. ^ Indian Heroes S. H. Raza at iloveindia.com.
  23. ^ Raza’s runes: visions of the self Swapna Vora at asianart.com.
  24. ^ Artist Biography Archived 24 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine. Raza at osbornesamuel.com.
  25. ^ a b Retrospective 2007 Archived 31 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine. A Conversation with Raza at saffronart.com.
  26. ^ Foreword Archived 4 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine. Raza Retrospective, 2007.
  27. ^ Raza's Bindu Artwork Image and Auction details OSIANAMA.COM
  28. ^ Raza's Bindu Artwork Image and Auction details OSIANAMA.COM
  29. ^ Raza's Bindu Artwork Image and Auction details OSIANAMA.COM
  30. ^ S H Raza reveals plans to open a cultural centre Archived 13 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine. indianartcollectors.com, 7 February 2008.
  31. ^ Raza's Triangles Artwork Image and Auction details OSIANAMA.COM
  32. ^ Raza's Kundalini Artwork Image and Auction details osianama.com
  33. ^ Raza's Nagas Artwork Image and Auction details osianama.com
  34. ^ Raza's Maha Bharata Artwork Image and Auction details osianama.com
  35. ^ Newsmakers The Milli Gazette Online, April 2005.
  36. ^ "Shows Magnificent Seven". www.artalivegallery.com. Retrieved 1 July 2016. 

External links

Online Work