Works by Sayed Haider Raza Head to Auction

On Tuesday 28 November, a unique auction will showcase several pieces by Sayed Haider Raza.

Sayed Haider Raza (1922-2016), Village, oil on canvas, 60 x 90 cm. Image © Neo Enchères (detail)
Sayed Haider Raza (1922-2016), Village, oil on canvas, 60 x 90 cm. Image © Neo Enchères (detail)

NEO Enchères specialises in Indian art, with a particular focus on the works of contemporary Indian artist Sayed Haider Raza. On 28 November, seven of his finest works, meticulously selected by the French auction house, will be offered for auction. Spanning from captivating landscapes to abstract compositions, these seven works offer a glimpse into the artist's talent and artistic evolution.

Sayed Haider Raza was born in 1922 in Kakkaiya, a small town in India. He was one of the founding members of the Progressive Artists' Group (PAG), formed in Bombay in 1947. The PAG played a crucial role in introducing modernism to India, laying the foundations for the development of contemporary art in the country.

The artist initially attended the Nagour School of Fine Arts before being awarded a joint scholarship from the Indian and French governments in 1950, granting him access to the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. This opportunity allowed him to assimilate Western expertise and artistic techniques, reinforcing his artistic identity. The culmination of this training was his victory of the Critics' Prize in 1956.

Sayed Haider Raza (1922-2016), Sentier, oil on canvas, 1966. Image © Neo Enchères
Sayed Haider Raza (1922-2016), Sentier, oil on canvas, 1966. Image © Neo Enchères

Raza was deeply inspired by the beauty of the French countryside and incorporated elements of French artistic movements, particularly expressionism and abstract art, into his work.

Two of the paintings offered for sale, Sentier and Village, come from a private collection owned by the Boudet family, dedicated enthusiasts of Raza's art. Over the years, they have amassed at least ten paintings by this esteemed artist, with two of them being showcased in the Raza exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in February 2023. Sentier was directly acquired from Raza's gallery owner, Lara Vincy, in 1972 by the Boudet family, attesting to the exceptional provenance of the painting.

Sayed Haider Raza (1922-2016), Village, oil on canvas, 60 x 90 cm. Image © Neo Enchères
Sayed Haider Raza (1922-2016), Village, oil on canvas, 60 x 90 cm. Image © Neo Enchères

These two works illustrate Raza's evolution, who, upon his arrival in France, directed his artistic exploration towards landscapes. He drew inspiration from the two-dimensional space of Indian miniatures, Byzantine icons, and Romanesque sculptures, especially when portraying the medieval villages of the Menton region. His palette, characterised by warm colours, vibrant contrasts, and expressive brushwork, evokes the styles of both Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin. The canvases also exemplify his method of blending the motif into the pictorial material, signalling his transition to oil painting and the use of a palette knife. It was this particular technique that brought him into contact with the École de Paris.

See also: 8 Artists Inspired by the South of the France

Sayed Haider Raza (1922 - 2016) Prakriti, Tapestry, wool. Image © Neo Enchères
Sayed Haider Raza (1922 - 2016) Prakriti, Tapestry, wool. Image © Neo Enchères

From the 1980s onward, Raza delved into Hindu symbolism and spirituality, reconnecting with his Indian cultural roots. He explored the motif of the Bindu ('dot' in Sanskrit), a theme that remained integral to his artistic journey and one to which he brought new dimensions in the decades that followed. The spiritual elements rediscovered in his works marked his evolution from an expressionist painter to a master of the abstract. The Prakriti tapestry serves as an exemplary instance, emphasising the Hindu and Buddhist concept of Prakriti, translating to 'nature' or 'primordial matter/cosmic substance' in Sanskrit. The textile piece naturally evokes the Bindu, a recurring motif in Raza's creations, and is highly coveted at auctions.

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The Nagas painting is another example of symbolism and spirituality, bringing to the forefront the Nagas – serpentine deities revered in Hinduism for their association with water, fertility, and the protection of nature. The Nagas are represented as divine snakes possessing mystical powers. This abstract work, which typifies Raza's final artistic period, uses vibrant colours, and invites multiple interpretation.

Sayed Haider Raza (1922-2016,) Nagas, Acrylic on canvas, 2007. Estimate: €20,000 - €30,000. Image © Neo Enchères
Sayed Haider Raza (1922-2016,) Nagas, Acrylic on canvas, 2007. Estimate: €20,000 - €30,000. Image © Neo Enchères

The auction will also showcase pieces by Janine Mongillat, the partner of Sayed Haider Raza. A skilled and versatile artist, she delves into various techniques, including oil painting, collage, and sculpture, skillfully capturing the essence of nature and everyday life with sensitivity. The collaboration between Raza and Mongillat has forged a unique synergy, inspiring each other's work and expanding the horizons of their artistic expression.

The auction dedicated to Sayed Haider Raza and Janine Mongillat will be held on 28 November at 6, rue Bargue 75015 Paris.

Find the entire NEO Enchères catalogue here.

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