Lot 61
  • 61

Sayed Haider Raza (b.1922)

250,000 - 350,000 USD
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  • Sayed Haider Raza
  • La Forge
  • Signed 'RAZA '71' lower left and further signed, dated and inscribed 'RAZA/ P_844 '71/ "La Forge"/ 120 x 120 cm/ =(60F) + 10' on reverse
  • Acrylic on canvas
  • 47 1/4 by 47 1/4 in. (120 by 120 cm)
  • Painted in 1971


Acquired directly from the artist by the current owners in 1971


Sen, Geeti,  Bindu: Space and Time in Raza's Vision, New Delhi, 1997, pp. 52-53
Imbert, Michel, RAZA An Introduction to his Painting, New Delhi, 2003, p.46


The colours are slightly brighter in reality. This work is in good condition, as viewed.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

La Forge represents the pinnacle of Raza's career, when after experimenting with a newfound autonomy of pictorial space his work culminated into an innovative form of expression focused on the orchestration of colour.  This work shows competing elements and forms in nature applied to a fluid pictorial space. The work shows how Raza dexterously integrated autonomous modernist abstraction with the organic qualities of the most picturesque countrysides, making the styles leading high modernism in the United States apply to Raza's ongoing interest in landscape.

'This square-shaped painting is composed of curved lines occupying two thirds of the canvas and vertical lines that fill the upper third... In this canvas Raza conveys to us the starting point of his journey to the depths of his origins, illustrated here by the centre of the earth, the initial magma, a source of energy indispensable for his creations.' (Imbert 2003, pp. 45-47).

Throughout his career Raza has been influenced by the mystical power of nature. The elements and the potency of colours and symbols to represent these elements are central to the evolution of Raza's artistic vocabulary. In the early years in France, Raza painted the landscapes of Europe in semi-abstracted forms but with identifiable architectural features that provide a constant link to human activity but as his works progress these identifiable elements disappear.

In 1962 Raza moved to America where he came into contact with the New York school of painters and he witnessed for the first time the Abstract Expressionism of such artists as Francis, Rothko and Pollock. Pollock's works in particular had no formal construction or sense of spatial recession which allowed the artist greater autonomy over the pictorial space which inspired Raza to experiment in new ways. Raza's own move to a less structured composition coincides with a change of medium from oil to acrylic which allowed him a greater freedom of expression, the medium itself allowing a less self conscious application of paint to the canvas resulting in more abstract yet fluid works.

These abstract creations were influenced not only by the French countryside but also represented a visual expression of his own meditations, that were inspired by the memories of his childhood in the forests of India. 'The most tenacious memory of my childhood is the fear and fascination of the Indian forest. We lived near the source of the Narmada river in the centre of the densest forests of Madhya Pradesh. Nights in the forest were hallucinating; sometimes the only humanizing influence was the dancing of the Gond tribes. Daybreak brought back a sentiment of security and well-being. On market-day, under the radiant sun, the village was a fairyland of colors. And then, the night again. Even today I find that these two aspects of my life dominate me and are an integral part of my painting... ' (Artist in conversation with Jacques Lassaigne, Sen 1997, p.88)