Sayed Haider Raza
- Sayed Haider Raza
- Church at Meulan
- Signed 'Raza '56' upper right
Bearing The American Federation of Arts label on reverse
- Oil on board
- 91.5 by 72.4 cm. (36 by 28 ½ in.)
- Painted in 1956
Acquired from Galerie Lara Vincy, Paris, 1960s
Thence by descent
Graham Gallery, New York: 10 - 26 February 1959
American University, Washington, D.C.: 8 - 29 March 1959
West Virginia Institute of Technology, Montgomery, West Virginia: 7 - 28 April 1959
Speed Museum, Louisville, Kentucky: 5 - 25 July 1959
Dorothy Yepez Gallery, Saranac Lake, New York: 25 August - 5 September 1959
SUNY, Oswego, New York: 10 - 30 October 1959
Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan: 4 - 25 January 1960
Eastern Tennessee State College, Johnson City, Tennessee: 6- 27 February 1960
Denison University, Granville, Ohio: 3- 23 March 1960
Chatham College, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: 12 April - 3 May 1960
Asia Society, New York, 1962
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In 1950, Raza left for Paris with a bursary from the French Government to study at the École Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris. This was Raza's first experience of France, which would later become his second home. During his time in Paris, Raza was exposed to the Post-Impressionist artists, in particular, Cezanne and Van Gogh, who were major sources of inspiration to him. He admired how such artists used colour to structure their paintings. 'For the next fifteen years, Raza was to work doggedly, persistently, with great strength and determination, inspired primarily by the formal construction of Cezanne and the passionate exploration of colour by Van Gogh. His medium changed from gouache in tempera to impasto in oil, signifying a major breakthrough with the paint coming into its own.' (Y. Dalmia, The Making of Modern Indian Art: The Progressives, New Delhi, 2001, p. 151)
Whilst in Paris, Raza achieved commercial success; he initially exhibited with Padamsee and Souza at Galerie St. Placide in 1952 followed by an exhibition at Galerie Creuz in 1953 and from 1955 to 1971, Raza exhibited exclusively with Galerie Lara Vincy. The same year Church at Meulan was painted, Raza was awarded the prestigious Prix de La Critique. This award gave Raza international recognition and lead to him being invited to exhibit at the Venice, Brussels and Sao Paulo Biennales as well as exhibitions in Tokyo, London, USA and Canada.
Jacques Lassaignes, the director of the Museum of Modern Art in Paris, wrote of his work from this period 'The seeming difference between his canvases of today and his gouaches of yesterday corresponds to the transition from one technique, in which lightness of touch is everything, to another, richer and more complex, which calls for all the resources at the artist's command... Pure forms take shapes no longer in the void, but in revelatory contrast with their surroundings, in light that exults, doubly bright, against the opacity that threatens it.' (A. Vajpeyi, A Life in Art: S.H. Raza, Art Alive Gallery, New Delhi, 2007, p.73).
Raza later moved to Provence, where he became inspired by the French countryside.'The landscape with its trees, mountains, villages, and churches became his staple diet” (Y. Dalmia, 2001 p.152). Dalmia describes a similar work painted the following year 'the black steeple and charred roofs burn in their intensity against a smouldering orange sky' (ibid.) In the artist's own words "... the chapels, churches and crosses (of the French countryside) touched me very deeply, I wanted my paintings to express the feeling of fervor and human tension that burned within me.' (M. Imbert, Raza: An introduction to his Painting, Delhi, 2000, p. 37).