Gandhi in Raza - Exhibition and Book Launch
Speech by the Ambassador of France to India, H.E. Mr Alexandre Ziegler.
New Delhi, 22 February 2017
Ladies and gentlemen,
I have immense pleasure in being here today, at the inauguration of this exhibition “Gandhi in Raza”, and the accompanying launch of this eponymous book.
Indeed, we are celebrating today, a unique moment in the history of Art and Thought: the meeting that took place between great minds of their time: Gandhi and Raza.
I would like to offer my warmest congratulations to the organizers of this event: the Raza Foundation, and also to Reena and Abhijit Lath, directors of the Akar Prakar gallery, wich is co-publishing this book with Mapin Publishing.
I also thank Ashok Vajpeyi, the great poet, and all our friends present here.
Raza had always maintained a close relationship with France. A French government scholarship holder, he studied Fine Arts at the prestigious National school for Fine Arts (Ecole nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts) in Paris in the early 1950s, a great period in the history of Art, where everything had to be built up from scratch after the Second World War.
This period was, indeed, a deciding moment in the careers of a few masters of the 20th century — Pollock, Newman, Rothko, Soulages, Fontana — who at the time created some of their master pieces. It turned out to be so for Raza, who was on the threshold of an extraordinary journey full of creativity.
France has always kept a strong and friendly relationship with Raza, as you can see when you come to the French Residency or even to my office. His creativity has always inspired us.
It is therefore unsurprising that Raza, who himself had revolutionized modern painting and abstraction, would create at the end of his life a series on Gandhi, the man who dramatically changed the course of India; a man he had personally encountered when he was only 8 years old.
Finished in 2013, this series of paintings comes across as a powerful meditation on Gandhi, his philosophy and his imprint not only on India, but on the world at large.
These works, in a way, are the testimony of an old man, a tribute from one legend to the undisputed legend of 20th century India and we all feel humble, being surrounded by the legacy of these two great souls.
There is no better way to celebrate Raza’s 95th birthday than to be in this magnificent gallery and to enjoy Raza’s celebration of the Gandhian spirit!