Syed Haider Raza (b. 1922)
- Syed Haider Raza
- Village en Provence
- Signed and dated 'RAZA '57' upper right
- Oil on canvas
- 24 3/4 by 71 3/4 in. (62.9 by 182.2 cm.)
Syed Haider Raza, a founder member of the Progressive Artists Group, experimented with Impressionist and Expressionist concepts in the early 1950s and moved slowly towards a European modernist bent by the end of the decade. In the 1960s and 70s he moved gradually towards abstraction and finally towards geometric compositions influenced by the yantras of classical Indian art.
In his works from the 1950s Raza remains enamored with the French countryside and Village en Provence is part of the series that captures the mood of the hilltop villages and the slightly ramshackle architecture of rural France. The work is exceptionally large for the 1950s but common with other works from the period is the high skyline with rooftops strung out along a hillside. The identifiable elements of architecture are intentionally limited to a narrow band that is placed two thirds of the way up the canvas, leaving a dominant foreground. Raza uses more gestural brushstrokes in the foreground that hint at the stylistic devices and fluid abstraction that will completely dominate his canvases of the mid-1970s. This late work of the 1950s is significant in that it represents a transitional phase between two stages of Raza's artistic development. While the landscape remains identifiable, color and the application of paint become the key elements in the work. The large format painting with geometric elements of rooftops and walls merging with abstracted skies and fields is the conceptual forerunner to his iconic paintings of the 1970's such as La Terre and Tapovan.