Born in 1922 - France
Sayed Haider Raza was born in 1922 in Madhya Pradesh and studied painting at the Nagpur School of Art and the Sir J.J.School of Art. A founder member of the Progressive Artists' Group, Raza participated actively in the Group's activities, stimulated many discussions in the early struggle to develop a modernist language and presented several exhibitions of his paintings in India before leaving for France on a French Government scholarship in 1950. In Paris he studied painting at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts from 1950 to 1953.
Awarded the Prix de la Critique in Paris in 1956, Raza has held numerous exhibitions both in India and abroad. He has participated in the Venice, Sao Paulo and Menton Biennales and has held retrospective shows the most recent being in 1997 in Mumbai, Bhopal and New Delhi. The University of California invited him as a visiting lecturer at the art department of Berkeley in 1962. In December 1978 the Madhya Pradesh Government invited him to his native state for a homage and an exhibition of his work in Bhopal. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1981 and was elected Fellow of the Lalit Kala Akademi in 1983. In 1997 Raza was awarded the Madhya Pradesh Government's prestigious Kalidas Samman.
A strong colourist Raza's painting resonate the passionate hot colours of India with all their symbolic, emotive value. While drawing from memories of childhood spent in the forests he has also been inspired by Indian metaphysical thought. Many of his paintings have a dark circular focal point termed the Bindu which. according to him is the fountainhead of both energy and creativity The strong colours and geometric shapes in Raza's paintings have sometimes been mistaken for neo-Tantrik art but according to the artist there is no affiliation with that school. Pre-occupied with imminent energies, he is a modernist involved with the plastic qualities of art and its emergence on the surface. Raza was recently living and working in Paris and in Gorbio in south France, before going home in India.
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