PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE NORTH AMERICAN COLLECTION
SAYED HAIDER RAZA
1922 - 2016
Acrylic on paper. Signed and dated 'RAZA' 80' upper left. Further signed, dated and inscribed 'RAZA / 1980 / 65x 50 cm' on reverse
25 ⅜ x 19 ⅝ in. (65.4 x 49.8 cm.)
Frame: 33 ¾ x 26 ⅞ in. (85.7 x 68.5 cm.)
Executed in 1980
There is minor wear along the edges and pin sized holes in the corners. A tiny loss to paper in the lower right corner is covered by the mount. Wear to paper in the right quadrant (off center) and scratches in the upper half of the work appear inherent. This work is in overall good condition, as viewed.
The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot provided by Sotheby's. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colours and shades which are different to the lot's actual colour and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation because Sotheby's is not a professional conservator or restorer but rather the condition report is a statement of opinion genuinely held by Sotheby's. For that reason, Sotheby's condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot.
Private Collection, Norway
Christie’s Dubai, 1 February 2007, lot 337
Private Collection, New York
Acquired from the above in 2013
Sayed Haider Raza co-founded the Progressive Artists’ Group to further explore the precepts of modernism which was not encouraged in art schools at the time. In the 1940s, he had already successfully deployed light and color in his works to convey the way landscapes resonated around him. He moved to France in 1950 and was impacted by the post-impressionists; Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cezanne and Paul Gaugin. He started to use more oil-based pigments and his work focused on the moods that color evoked. In 1962, Raza moved to America to teach at Berkley where he came into contact with many American painters; Sam Francis, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. These artists employed Abstract Expressionism and Raza began to paint with abstract narratives and a deeper sense of spatial recession. The abstract landscapes painted in the 1970s and early 1980s were influenced by the medley of styles he had encountered in both Paris and Berkeley. Drawing elements from the French countryside where he resided, along with his childhood memories of India, these works mark a very important transitional phase in his career and are his most successful commercially.
This untitled work from 1980 was created on the cusp of Raza’s progression towards formal geometric compositions dominated by their color and shape. He started to use more earthy tones rather than his earlier brightly painted compositions, as evidenced here. “For black was the mother of all colors and the one from which all others were born. It was also the void from which sprang the manifest universe [...] Some of the most haunting works of this period are those which evoke the night [...] where the liminal sheaths of black are illuminated by sparks of white light [...] As with Mark Rothko, black is one of the richest colors in Raza’s palette and signifies a state of fulsomeness. However, for both painters, colors plumb the depths and are not simply used for their own sake.” (Y. Dalmia, ‘The Subliminal World of Raza’, A Life in Art: S.H. Raza, Art Alive, New Delhi, 2007, p. 197) This time also marked a change in medium from oil to acrylic. Acrylic lent itself to the language of gesture, a fluidity which Raza exploited to its maximum potential. The thin translucent veneers of acrylic paint used in this lot are not only about space, pigment and line; they convey the artists’ feeling, giving the viewer an insight on how the artist produced his work. The use of the quick-drying acrylic paint also allows for freer and more expressive brushstrokes. This work was previously in a Norwegian collection. Raza held his first exhibition in Norway at Galleri Koloritten, Stavanger in 1974 and then continued to exhibit there for over a decade.