Last works of painter S.H. Raza on exhibition

New Delhi, July 1 (IANS) Paintings created by Sayed Haider Raza, when he was in his 90s, are not songs of farewell or leave-taking but of joy and life, said poet Ashok Vajpeyi at an exhibition of these artworks.

‘Uttar Raag’, the exhibition currently going on at Triveni Kala Sangam’s Shridharani Art Gallery till July 10, displays close to two-thirds of the late celebrated Indian modernist’s last works including his last finished painting — Swasti (2016) — and his last unfinished canvas.

These paintings have been inherited through his will by Raza Foundation, an arts and culture organization he himself established.

Other exhibited works — created between 2010 and 2016 — include “Yoni” (2012), “Roop Aroop” (2012), “Vistaar” (2013), “Jeevana (2014), “Tanmay” (2015), “Achal” (2015) and “Paysage” (2015) among others.

Raza, who died in 2016 at the age of 94, was a “master colourist”, said Vajpeyi, Raza Foundation’s Managing Trustee.

“Towards the end of his life he was living to paint, and painting to live. The distance between life and art was almost closed for him,” Vajpeyi, also the former Chairman of Lalit Kala Akademi, told IANS.

“He must have had some feeling that these were his last years. But his life-long zest for art, the urge to paint almost every day did not dim.

“The body was weak, energy declining, eyesight inadequate but he would invariably reach his studio from the bedroom every day and sit before the canvas on easel,” Vajpeyi earlier said in a statement.

The art maestro was born in 1922 in Mandla in what is now Madhya Pradesh, and shifted to France in his youth where he lived for almost six decades. Raza now lies buried next to his father in Mandla.

He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1981, the Padma Bhushan in 2007 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2013.

Calling Raza’s works a “re-exploration of his favourite themes”, Vajpeyi said these artworks are not imbued with feelings of leave-taking of saying adieu.

“They are not farewell lyrics. They are still songs of joy for life.”

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