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Founder member of the Bombay Progressives and one of the pioneers of modern Indian art, the grand body of work by S.H. Raza is a remarkable blend of his classical French training at École des Beaux-Arts, Paris, and his exposure to post-war American abstract expressionism. His inspiration from Indian philosophy and cosmology create a unique visual language in his paintings, celebrating the country’s iconography, nature, philosophy, music and poetry.
Curated by Vaishnavi Ramanathan, curator and art historian, Piramal Museum of Art, and Ashvin E. Rajagopalan, Director, Piramal Museum of Art, the exhibition will showcase five decades of Raza’s work from the early 1940s to the late 1990s— his early days in Mumbai, his travels around India, to various parts of France including Gorbio, and eventually his metaphorical return to his Indian roots. The exhibition traces his development as an artist and philosopher, whilst offering insights into his contributions to post-Independence Indian abstraction.
The artworks on display highlight Raza’s significant influence on his peers, including the Bombay Progressives Group, and subsequent generations of Indian artists by taking a sweeping view of his rich artistic journey across continents, styles and philosophical musings. The S.H. Raza: Traversing Terrains exhibition also invites the viewer to discover the dynamic urban context in which Raza worked, and Mumbai’s role as an artistic melting pot for diverse ‘progressive’ energies, whilst also tracing Raza’s unique evolution as an artist.
“We thought it was important to present this exhibition not only because of the significance of Raza's works but also because he arrived in the Indian art scene at a very critical juncture. Though he lived in France, his works were deeply rooted in India and are result of a life-long quest to get to the essence of the visible world around.” says Vaishnavi Ramanathan.
This one-of-a-kind exhibition is a compelling homage to Raza’s legacy allowing audiences to navigate an exhibition space that physically and aesthetically mimics the distinct visual language of the artworks. When viewed from above, the entire gallery space and installed exhibition appears as an innovative Raza painting. Re-defining the framework of art display in India, Piramal Museum of Art are working with critically acclaimed exhibition designers Gallagher & Associates, who have custom designed the exhibition space to showcase the artist’s work in an immersive and engaging context. Interactive displays, special programming and custom-designed lighting will offer diverse audiences unique opportunities to engage with the works.
“In a sense, this exhibition has been in the making for several years as the Piramal Art Collection has been consistently enriched by S. H. Raza’s artworks over the last decade. The show is not just about Raza’s paintings, but explores a larger narrative of his life and his relationships with his peers, contemporaries, patrons, galleries and friends. A museum visitor will find some of his landmark artworks bolstered by letters, publications, critiques of his work and other documents, drawing a human story amidst the aesthetic pleasures of viewing over 30 artworks by this Master. This exhibition is designed to resonate with the Indian audience that is typically receptive to storytelling, gaining knowledge and exploring culture,” added Ashvin E Rajagopalan, curator and Director of the Piramal Museum of Art.
Featuring key works from the Piramal Art Collection, S.H. Raza: Traversing Terrains opens to the public from 24 June to 28 October 2018. Piramal Museum of Art has also curated a special series of programmes to complement the show, including outreach events for younger audiences, schools, and the public over the course of three months.
Venue: Piramal Museum of Art, Piramal Tower Peninsula Corporate Park Lower Parel Mumbai 400013
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