Raza, or Raza Sahab as he is affectionately known as in this
country and in the art world, is one of those seminal
personalities whose contribution to the creative process and
the evolution of the modern language of image making of this
country has created its own history. Envisaging the depth
and expanse of this history one discovers several facets
that range from the representation of reality to the
experiential and realizational abstraction but also raises
some important and pertinent questions regarding a larger
understanding of things.
Is art only
relevant to its times? Is the role of an artist to only
respond to the times that he lives in, or also re-validate
and re-interpret the assimilations of the past? This debate
will, perhaps, never have a definitive answer as long as art
is continued to be created and produced and art critics and
art historians continue to historicize and delve in a
critical debate about its validity and function. Art can
transcend the limits of time, be relevant to the viewer and
communicate a plethora of meanings and messages or simply
rivet ones attention to a frozen abstraction. Raza's
creations over six decades are all these and much more.
Raza has been
residing in France since 1950. His works of the early years
in India or those of the last over 5 decades in France, all
appear to have a consistency and continuity yet being
independent-not possible to be categorized or bracketed as
belonging to a certain period. The geometrical forms merging
with the seamless infinite forms and the dynamic colours
convey equilibrium, while concealing hidden meanings and
meanings within meanings.
can be eternal, concepts which have roots in all branches of
Indian philosophy, complex connotations of philosophical
abstractions find apparently simple manifestations in Raza's
canvas. Thus the viewer can interpret and re-interpret over
and over again.
considers it a proud privilege to having mounted the
exhibition "Swasti" on the occasion of the 85th
birthday of Raza, who has also been honored with a Padma
Bhushan this year.
It is a small
tribute to an artist whose contribution to modern Indian art
is immemorable. The exhibition attempts to show case a range
of works from the early 1950th to the present times from the
collection of National Gallery of Modern Art, a priceless
collection from Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal and including private
collections and individuals.
has also created some works, specially for this occasion
which are presently on display.
But, can it
capture the infinite character of what has gone into the
making of this man and his art?
National Gallery of Modern Art,