S. H. Raza's new series "Rang Raas"

An exhibition, titled 'Rang Raas', showcases the works by veteran painter S. H. Raza. It's perhaps an anti-dote to the celebrated painter's earlier exhibition 'Moun', which featured works in blacks, whites and grays. The new series marks a return to color and celebrations for the veteran artist after his previous show.

Incidentally, Tao gallery had an exhibition of paintings that displayed works by S. H. Raza, using the theme of 'moun' or silence. The painter wanted to propagate through his paintings silence as the most effective mode of communication and also as the best mode of resistance.

On other hand, 'Rang Raas', the octogenarian painter's new exhibition, has him at his expressive best. The works are a splash of ecstatic colors. The show, an ecstasy of colors on view, has been conceptualized and curated by Kalpana Shah, according to whom, 'Raag Raas' is 'celebration through colors. The vibrancy and strokes bring back the life to you; it's the unique union of colors through soul.

S. H. Raza calls his work a result of two parallel enquiries aimed at a 'pure plastic order' and 'the theme of nature' respectively. Both converge into a single point and become inseparable - the bindu. In the late 70s, he focused on pure geometrical forms; his images were improvisations on an essential theme: that of the mapping out of a metaphorical space in the mind.

About the evolution in his work, the artist has noted: "As far as my work is concerned, I am coming to crystallization of a potent symbolism in its simplicity and elasticity. The process is continual and through elimination, my means are getting more and more economical and I am looking at my destination without the superfluous and the unnecessary." Apart from his new works, some tapestries based on Raza's works, made by weavers from the western state of Gujarat and other states, are also being displayed as part of the show. These are recreations of the master painter's exquisite works of which noted art critic Ranjit Hoskote has once mentioned in an essays' 'Through the resonant symbolism that has become his hallmark, he translates the organic processes of germination, growth, decay and resurgence into a geometry of the Sublime.

'While he has translated the landscape into the deep color saturations of an abstract pictorial space occasionally annotated with a floating poem, Raza more often invokes the theme of fertility through such key motifs as the bija or seed, the bindu or focal source, which occupy a central place in his private mythology.' These aspects of the painter's works are reflected in the tapestries.

Lauding the creative effort by the weavers, the Paris-based painter emphasizes these woven tapestries are 'interpretations' of his masterpieces including the famous bindu, which becomes enshrined as an icon, as sacred geography, restoring us to a sense of wholeness. The bindu thus contains within itself the two poles' (zero and infinity) and all that lies between.

The trend of tapestries is not so uncommon in the world of art. Works of artists like Henry Moore and Henri Matisse have been woven into tapestries. As the veteran painter reveals, tapestries are shown in museums, palaces, chateaux and rich people's houses in France (Raza is based in Paris). The tapestries over there are created by expert craftsmen. 'They (the tapestries) should be considered works of art. Their (weavers) medium and personality also affect the work and bring about a certain change in it,' the painter has been quoted as saying on eve of the show.

'Rang Raas', an exhibition celebrating the joy of colors of nature, continues at Tao Art Gallery till March 8, 2006.

View S. H. Raza's work in Saffronart catalogue

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