Monday, February 4, 2013

The way Raza’s art evolved over time

To veteran artist SH Raza, the act and process of painting is akin to intense meditative practice of japa (repetitive recitation of a holy mantra). Working with some very basic forms and concepts such as the point, the circle, the concentric diagram etc, he has vehemently pursued a pictorial japa so as to fathom deep recesses of the inner self. His artistic evolution has been quite intriguing, starting with expressionist landscapes that became geometric representations of landscape.

Gradually, the lines blurred and color began to dominate. Though landscape remained his chosen theme, it gradually turned non-representational. Later, in the late 70’s, he focused on pure geometrical forms. His images then mapped the mind’s metaphorical space. The ‘Bindu’ became more of an icon, sacred in its symbolism. He terms his work an outcome of ‘two parallel enquiries’ - aimed at a pure plastic order and also concerning the theme of nature. According to him, both converge into a single point to become inseparable - the ‘Bindu’.

His early work was characterized by the use of thick impasto and depicted landscapes - far more representational than abstract. Gradually, his landscapes became ever more removed from reality before becoming totally abstract. The vivid colors and scenery of rural India remained with him long after he left the country. In fact, his strong ties to nature, especially the forests of Madhya Pradesh, remained at the root of his fabulous paintings, and manifested themselves predominantly through his usage of color.

In the 1980s the artist distilled his landscapes into geometric blocks of color. The compositional elements and the vibrancy of colors used to represent the elements were central to his works from this period. Raza's canvases from the eighties onwards, which comprise combinations of geometrical shapes, alluded to the contemporary metamorphosis of an ancient tradition of the mandalas.

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