Acrylic on canvas
36 1/8 x 28 5/8 in. (91.8 x 72.8 cm.)
Signed and dated 'RAZA '69' lower right and further signed, dated and inscribed 'RAZA / "L'Espagne" / P-802 '69 / 30F' on reverse
Anne Macklin (ed.), S.H. Raza Catalogue Raisonne 1958-1971 (Volume 1) , New Delhi, 2016, p. 181, illustrated.
'Raza remains characterized by the crossbreeding of the modernity of Europe and America and the spirituality of India. His evolution can be observed in the successive stages that structured his life: at every moment of his thought process, life, nature and their mysteries have been forever present.' (Michel Imbert, Raza: An introduction to his Painting, New Delhi, 2003)
Raza was influenced by the mystical power of nature throughout his career. The elements, and the potency of colours as symbols to represent these elements, are central to the evolution of Raza's artistic vocabulary. In the early years in France, Raza painted the landscapes of Europe in semi-abstracted forms, but with identifiable architectural features that provide a constant link to the landscapes that surrounded him. As his work progresses, these identifiable elements disappear. In 1962, Raza moved to the United States to teach. During this period, he came into contact with the New York school of painters and witnessed, for the first time, the Abstract Expressionism of artists such as Sam Francis and Jackson Pollock. Pollock's works, in particular, with no formal construction or sense of spatial recession, inspired Raza to experiment in new ways with his own work.
Raza's own move to a less structured composition coincides with a change of medium from oil to acrylic, which allowed him a greater freedom of expression. The medium itself allowed a less self-conscious application of paint to the canvas, and this approach results in more abstract and fluid works. Raza explained that it offered 'a new technique that suited his Indian temperament better than oils'. (Ashok Vajpeyi, A Life in Art: Raza, New Delhi, 2007, p. 76) Using loose, gestural brushwork, an expressive palette, and acrylic as a medium, Raza sought to communicate moods rather than images through his canvases. As the artist explains, 'thereafter visual reality, the aim to construct a 'tangible' world receded. In its place there was a preoccupation with evoking the essence, the mood of places and of people.' (Geeti Sen, 'The Seed and the Fruit: Metaphors in Raza's Painting', S. H. Raza, exhibition catalogue, Saffronart, Mumbai, 2005, unpaginated)
In the current painting, as with many of his paintings from the late 1960s, 'tangible' nature gives way to a transfigured nature, where Raza uses light, shadow, and colour to portray the landscapes of Central India where he grew up, or as in this case, the vistas of Europe where he now lived.
Unlike Raza's paintings that specifically reference India, characteristically painted in burning reds and oranges, reflecting the country's hot climate, his European inspired works tend to be executed in deeper darker tones of green, khaki and brown. Despite this distinction of colour tones, the approach to the composition is similar. As with many of his India inspired works from this period, the current work includes a band of pigment that crosses the upper portion of the painting, in a manner that is somewhat reminiscent of Rothko paintings, whilst the lower portion is filled with a more complex web of gestural strokes and fractured geometric forms. These fractured elements are an evolution of the geometric rooftops and buildings of his earlier landscapes from the 1960s, whilst the bands of colour represent an important forerunner to the tantric inspired compositions of his later career. This has led many critics to term these paintings from the late 1960s as transitional works, but they lead to some of his most impressive compositions.
'What is created in Raza's fragmentation of forms are analogies - not the outward manifestation of reality as in his earliest works, or the imaginary landscapes in his early gouaches - but the "real thing", through the substantial realm of colour. There is vigour here, and there is an irrepressible rhythm; but it is no longer nature as "seen" or constructed, but nature as experienced. He is no longer concerned in capturing the outward shape of things but their inner rhythm; and in evoking a response in the viewer through the use of appropriate colours.' (Geeti Sen, Bindu Space and Time in Raza's Vision, New Delhi, 1997, p. 79)
# Import duty at 11% will be charged on the hammer price and GST will be applicable on the total amount of the hammer price plus the import duty.
The colours of the original are less saturated than the catalogue illustration. Overall good condition.
About The Artist:
SYED HAIDER RAZA (1922 - 2016)