S H Raza

Syed Haider Raza was a renowned Indian artist who gained international recognition for his vibrant and colorful abstract paintings. He was one of the founding members of the Progressive Artists’ Group of Bombay, which revolutionized Indian art by breaking away from traditional styles and embracing more modern and international influences.

Early Life and Education:

Raza was born in 1922 in Babaria, a small village in Madhya Pradesh, India. He showed an early interest in art and was encouraged by his family to pursue his passion. In 1943, he graduated from the Nagpur School of Art and went on to study at the Sir J.J. School of Art in Mumbai.


In the late 1940s, Raza moved to France, where he studied at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. This was a time of great artistic experimentation in Europe, and Raza was exposed to the works of the leading modernists of the time, including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Georges Braque. In the 1950s, Raza co-founded the Progressive Artists’ Group of Bombay, along with artists like F.N. Souza, M.F. Husain, and Tyeb Mehta. The group sought to break free from the constraints of traditional Indian art and embrace more modern and international styles. Raza’s work from this period often featured bold, abstract compositions with strong geometric shapes and bright colors.

Throughout his career, Raza’s work was heavily influenced by Indian spiritual and philosophical traditions. He often incorporated Sanskrit calligraphy and symbols from Hindu cosmology into his paintings. He believed that art should be a means of exploring the mysteries of the universe and connecting with the divine. Raza’s work gained international recognition in the 1960s and 1970s, and he became one of India’s most celebrated artists. He was the recipient of numerous awards and accolades throughout his career, including the Padma Shri in 1981, the Padma Bhushan in 2007, and the Padma Vibhushan in 2013.


Raza’s work is featured in major collections and museums around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, and the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi. His vibrant and colorful abstract compositions continue to inspire and influence artists today. Raza passed away in 2016 at the age of 94, leaving behind a rich legacy of art that reflects his deep connection to Indian spirituality and philosophy. His work continues to be celebrated and admired by art lovers and collectors around the world.

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