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Keeping S.H. Raza’s flame burning

The Raza Foundation is conducting a week-long workshop for fine arts students in Madhya Pradesh's Mandla to commemorate the artist's first death anniversary

Photo: The Raza Foundation
Photo: The Raza Foundation

Sayed Haider Raza died a year ago, on 23 July. A towering modern Indian artist, his move from expressionist landscapes to geometric abstractions, called the “bindu" phase— in which he realized the acme of his artistic style—has been well documented.

Moved by a deeper study of Indian culture and philosophy, he came up with the bindu or, more accurately perhaps, the bindu came to him. It was a perfect circle encapsulating Buddhist iconography, Hindu ideas of kundalini and tantra, but, more importantly, his own “inner experience". In 2001, realizing the limitations of Indian art institutions in imparting skills related to exhibition-making, the artist set up the Raza Foundation in Delhi.

To commemorate his first death anniversary, the foundation has been conducting a week-long workshop for fine arts students in Madhya Pradesh’s Mandla, Raza’s hometown, and the place where he is buried. The workshop, which ends on Saturday, aims to strengthen the arts ecosystem and provide support to emerging artists. On Sunday, the foundation will hold a Hindustani classical recital by singer Kalapini Komkali, daughter of the late Pandit Kumar Gandharva.

Besides painters like Atul Dodiya and Manish Pushkale, even classical musicians and dancers like Malavika Sarukkai have received grants, awards and fellowships from the foundation. The foundation has published eminent scholar B.N. Goswamy’s book, The Spirit Of Indian Painting: Close Encounters With 101 Great Works 1100-1900, and it extends its arts patronage and support to the fields of literature and design.

Hindi poet Ashok Vajpeyi, the foundation’s current managing trustee, says: “Over the years, the foundation has provided young artists, poets, musicians, dancers, among other talents, with platforms to showcase their genius through a rich portfolio of outreach activities, events and programmes." The next five years, he says, will see more projects come to fruition—among them Indian, Asian and international art and poetry festivals.

The music recital will be held on Sunday, 9am, at Rapta Ghat, Mandla. Click here for details.

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