"Mumbai will get to see 30 new works of the legendary artist SH Raza. One could call this a very special exhibition — not just because it will see 30 new works of the legendary Syed Haider Raza after a gap of six years, but special because, "This exhibition is a sum total of all my experiences and all my research," says the 91-year-old artist. Titled Vistaar, the works expand the gamut of his symbols, and in its expansion, envelopes the world and spirituality, as he sees in it. His canvases seem alive with the movement and vibrations of his various concepts of the Bindu, Tree of life, Kundalini, Purush-prakriti, Panchtatva, Yoni, Ling, Space and Time. There are canvases of colours that are vibrant and full of life and also ones that take you into yourself, as you meditate on them. The exhibition will not just see his current work, but will also display one work from each decade of his career from 1950 onwards. His works essentially, are "a fundamental research in pictorial format", linked with Indian thought and aesthetics, and influenced by European trends; but, at the same time "retaining the primary traits of Indian traditions". Despite spending six decades in France, (when he married artist Janine Mongillat) Raza essentially never gave up his roots. "I didn't become a French painter or a European one. I remained an Indian painter through the years. That was always in my heart and I am very glad that I was able to come back here again." Raza believes that a picture is a construction of a relation of forms and colour and, "as an Indian, I remained convinced that the bhav or the feeling of a painting is important, and these put together, can make a good artistic expression. This is what I tried to do during my years in France". He travelled all over Europe and America, and would come back to India every two or three years to regain his touch and link with his country. He says, "India is always in my heart and I put that in my paintings and sometimes in my dairies and letters." Art connoisseur Sangeeta Chopra says, "Razaji said that the title of the show is Vistaar and by that he means expansion. But Vistaar to me, when I look at his body of work, means expansion inside. As much as he has gone outside and spread his vibration, that much he has equally and as importantly, gone inside his soul, so that there is no difference between Raza the artist and Raza the person. And that is what makes this show really special." Talking about the future of Indian contemporary art, Raza says, "Young painters are amazingly involved in their own research and are coming into their own personal perceptions. There is great hope for the future of art here. We will be the most vital art expression in the world." The artist is content with his artistic journey so far. "I am very happy. My only ambition is that the quality of my work should go ahead." This humility is applaud-worthy, coming from an artist who has seen it all — in May 2010, an international auction house sold Raza's The Saurashtra for `16 crore, making it the most expensive painting by an Indian artist. Vistaar will be on at Jehangir Art Gallery, Kala Ghoda, till December 3 and then at the Art Musings gallery, Colaba, from December 4 till January 10, 2013."
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Bench: 102 x 16 /In
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