Syed Haider (SH) Raza, an influential figure on modern painting in India, has died at the age of 94 in New Delhi, Art Asia Pacific reports. Known for his striking abstractions of landscapes as well as colour-field and later geometric paintings, SH Raza constantly challenged the conventions of painting in India – notably as a founding member of the Progressive Artists Group (1947–56), which rejected academic realism to develop a unique artistic language drawing from classical Indian art, folk and tribal art and European Modernism.
Raza moved to Paris in 1950 to study at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, where he remained until 2002. In 1962, Raza was invited to teach at Berkeley University in California, where, after his encounter with the work of the Abstract Expressionists, he continued his own experiments with abstraction. As his work evolved, the artist found himself increasingly drawn back Indian culture and developed work around the concept of bindu, the Sanskrit word for ‘point’, which means to go beyond what can be imagined or represented, resulting in geometric paintings using endless combinations of vibrant tones – primarily red, orange, black, blue and yellow.
Raza was awarded the Padma Bushan in 2007 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2013 (the third- and second-highest civilian award in india) and in 2015 received the French Légion d’Honneur.
26 June 2016.