Book launch of Sayed Haider Raza: The Journey of an Iconic Artist
The Embassy of France/Institut Français in India, in collaboration with Raza Foundation and Harper Collins, released the book, Sayed Haider Raza: The Journey of an Iconic Artist by Yashodhara Dalmia, on Thursday, 25th February 2021 at the Résidence de France, New Delhi.
New Delhi, 25 February 2021
This book release is amongst a series of events organised to mark the beginning of the renowned artist’s centenary year, “Raza 100”, and pay a fitting tribute to his life and work. France was not only the home of the artist for six decades, but also inspired his creativity, imagination and innovation and most importantly, invoked his Indian heritage. This distinguished alumni of the Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts, Paris, was conferred France’s highest civilian honour, Commandeur de la Légion d’Honneur in 2015.
Hailing the artist on this occasion, H.E. Mr Emmanuel Lenain, Ambassador of France to India, said, “Raza is as much France’s pride as India’s. He truly epitomises the Indo-French cultural and artistic links that have brought our cultures and peoples together.”
Mr Ashok Vajpeyi, President of the Raza Foundation, author Mrs Yashodhara Dalmia, and media and cultural personality, Mr Sunit Tandon, participated in the book launch soirée, hosted by H.E. Mr Emmanuel Lenain, Ambassador of France to India.
Sayed Haider RAZA: The Journey of an Iconic Artist is the first critical biography of the artist. Renowned art critic Yashodhara Dalmia has conceived the biography as a narrative of Raza’s life, times and art, connecting them in illuminating ways. The artist’s 94-year-long journey has been traced back to his early years in the forests of Madhya Pradesh, his involvement in the founding of the Progressive Artists’ Group in Mumbai, the influence of the 60 years spent in Paris and his impact on the international art world, to the final years in New Delhi.
The book mines the rich personal archives of Raza, using his vast correspondence, his love letters to French artist Janine Mongillat, who became his wife, and extensive personal interviews with fellow artists and others, in both France (Paris, Gorbio, Menton, among others) and India. The book brings a large number of facts, events, and encounters in the public domain for the first time, showing how a boy born in one of ten hutments in the forest village of Babaria rose to become a icon of modern Indian art and a unique Indo-French figure.
The style of the book is a very creative fusion of the narrative and the critical, intelligently weaving Raza’s own autobiographical notes and statements. Thus, one gains insights into Raza’s childhood and family, his interactions and friendships with fellow artists, as well as his concerns, anxieties, struggles and aesthetic evolution. Already translated into Hindi, the biography is also expected to appear in Bengali, Marathi, Malayalam and Urdu translations later in the course of the “Raza 100” celebrations.
Yashodhara Dalmia is an art historian and an independent curator based in New Delhi. She has written several essays, articles and reviews on contemporary Indian art. She is the author of Amrita Sher-Gil: A Life, The Making of Modern Indian Art: The Progressives and Buddha to Krishna: Life and Times of George Keyt. She also co-authored Memory, Metaphor, Mutations: Contemporary Art of India and Pakistan. Yashodhara has curated several art shows such as The Moderns which inaugurated the National Gallery of Art in Mumbai and the centenary show Amrita Sher-Gil: The Passionate Quest at the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru in 2014.
The Raza Foundation is an arts and culture organization established by the master of Indian modern art, the late Sayed Haider Raza. The Foundation has been instrumental in creating spaces for cultural programmes, publications and fellowships for young talent as well as research into the work of Raza. Keeping alive the legacy of the master, regular exhibitions of the paintings of Raza, his friends and contemporaries are also organized. The events also include concerts, panel discussions, conversations, conferences, publication of books and journals. The primary purpose of the Raza Foundation remains to bring forth, accentuate and acknowledge young talent as well as to raise timely debates and discussions on contemporary issues.
The French Institute in India (IFI) is the educational, scientific and cultural department of the Embassy of France in India. It facilitates academic and scientific exchange between higher institutes of learning and research, enables student mobility, and promotes the French language, and artistic and cultural partnerships. Cooperation between India and France takes place through a number of sectors: Arts & Culture, Books, Ideas, French Language & Education, the Study in France programme, Academic Partnerships, Science Technology, as well as Innovation and Multimedia.
HarperCollins Publishers India Pvt. Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., UK, came into being in 1991 and has completed more than 25 years in India. HarperCollins, as a brand, has completed over 200 years globally. HarperCollins India is one of the world’s largest entertainment-to-education publishers.
- Also on view: An exhibition of prints of the works of S.H. Raza, RAZA MADHYA, at the Alliance Française de Bhopal from 22 to 28 February 2021.