Gouache on paper
24 x 17 1/2 in. (61 x 44.6 cm.)
Signed and dated 'S.H. RAZA. '48' lower right and further signed and dated 'S.H. RAZA / 1948' on reverse
The current work was executed in 1948, the same year that Sayed Haider Raza graduated from the Sir J.J. School of Art in Mumbai. When Raza first arrived from Nagpur in 1943, he was fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of Rudi von Leyden, Emanuel Schlesinger and Walter Langhammer the very same year. Two of Raza's early watercolours had been selected for a show at the Bombay Art Society, and von Leyden, the art critic for The Times of India, had made a special mention of them in his review. This peaked the interest of Schlesinger, the collector amongst the three European emigres who had made Mumbai their home, who then sought out Raza in his studio and invited the young artist to one of their get-togethers. This fortuitous meeting led to a period of intense learning for the artist in these early years. He benefitted from all the knowledge the three men had to offer, and spent many hours studying the history of various schools of art and modern European artists to try and further his understanding of his own creative process.
In 1948, Raza, along with a film producer and an actor, was invited to visit Kashmir by Sheikh Abdullah. Like various other parts of India that were still reeling from the effects of Partition, Kashmir, more than most, had already witnessed its own troubles. Raza was deeply influenced by both the humanitarian crisis as well as the sheer beauty of the Kashmir landscape, and in his three months there, produced a body of works that captured the very essence of the land. This group of works, dominated by the use of colour and quick, expressionist brushstrokes have now come to define his early years.
In an exhibition of his Kashmir works held the same year, von Leyden made the following observations, 'There is nothing more satisfying for a reviewer of art exhibitions than to see a young talent developing from year to year in evergreen and ever-original manner... From paintings which are well within the conventional styles of descriptive landscaping, we wander on to bolder experiments in colour and form... Colours have deepened, washes have changed into juicy pigments with an endless play of tones. He has discovered the wonderful possibilities of grey as a foil to the brighter hues and the telling forces of sensitive line to enliven the expanses of colour.... As Dr. Saiyidian pointed out in his unusually good opening speech, the human touch is always present in Raza's art however much the aesthetic forces of form or colour seem to assert themselves.' (Rudi von Leyden, 'Paintings by S.H. Raza', The Times of India, Mumbai, 1948)
This work bears close resemblance to a Gold Medal winning work at the Bombay Art Society, also created during Raza's visit to Kashmir in 1948.
The colours of the original are significantly brighter than the catalogue illustration, especially within the blues of the sky, the yellows of the buildings and the greens of the foliage. Fine craquelure is clearly visible in the thickest areas of pigment application scattered throughout the painting, particularly visible along the rooftops of the lower buildings and in blacks of the uppermost mountain ridge. Further minor abrasions visible to the paint surface, partially visible in the catalogue illustration. The paper is slightly undulating within the frame. Good overall condition.
About The Artist:
SAYED HAIDER RAZA (1922-2016)
AUCTION DATE: Aug 6, 2020 at 6:30pm IST