Lot 23
  • 23


35,000 - 45,000 GBP
40,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Sayed Haider Raza
  • Aaj
  • Signed and dated 'Raza '70' upper right and further signed, dated, titled and inscribed 'RAZA / P_ 826 '70 / "आज" / "Āj" (Aujourd'hui) / 8F' on reverse
  • Acrylic on canvas
  • 46 x 38 cm. (18 x 14 ⅞ in.)
  • Painted in 1970


UK Private Collection
Sotheby's New York, 19 September 2007, lot 20
Sotheby's London, 6 October 2015, lot 46


New York, Rubin Museum of Art, Modernist Art from India: Approaching Abstraction, May - October 2012

Catalogue Note

The early and mid-20th century was marked by a trend towards abstraction in art. American art critic Jerry Saltz articulates this leaning beautifully: "Early-twentieth-century abstraction is art's version of Einstein's Theory of Relativity. It's the idea that changed everything everywhere: quickly, decisively, for good."(http://www.vulture.com/2013/01/saltz-on-inventing-abstraction-at-the-moma.html). Progressives Maqbool Fida Husain and Sayed Haider Raza also responded to this trend in the mid 1950s when they began incorporating non-figurative elements in their works. The very essence of the Progressive Artists' Group has been enunciated by eminent art historian Geeta Kapur, “This is what has now been recognized to be the elliptical looping of vocabularies and affects that have generated multiple modernisms. ...[Indian modernism] exercised its own creativity in the period of transition to modernity, devising formal transfers, visual articulations and cultural hybrids that were eclectic and integral to its own civilisational genius and to its own historical needs.” (G. Kapur, 'Modern India: A Retrospective on the Practice of Art,' India Moderna, Valencia: IVAM Institut Valencià d’Art Modern, 2008, p. 335). This subtle equilibrium is discernible in the current lot by Raza - a beautiful Indian landscape in rich yellows and reds. 

Western abstractionists may have influenced Raza, but the use of colours this incendiary and passionate was entirely his own. The Devanagari script inscribed on the canvas reads the Hindi word aaj, meaning 'today'. This work proudly announces exactly that: today, a spirit of freshness, the new, of a truly Indian abstraction, and a vital force for advancing history.