SH Raza’s paintings on Gandhi to be unveiled in Capital

New Delhi, Feb 14 (IANS) Acclaimed late painter SH Razas deep admiration for Mahatma Gandhi and his teachings is reflected in a series of seven paintings which he executed in 2013 to pay tribute to the Father of the Nation. These paintings will be unveiled as a set for the first time.

The show marks the 95th birth anniversary of the master-artist, and will be first inaugurated on February 22 at the Visual Arts Gallery in India Habitat Centre here.

Conceptualised by Akar Prakar gallery, in collaboration with the Raza Foundation in a solo show titled “Gandhi in Raza,” these rare paintings have been created using subdued hues and motifs that are somewhat a departure from what one usually sees in a Raza work.

“These seven paintings were made as a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, as an expression of reverence. It is like a parikrama by a painter around a great soul who always inspired him. Each canvas clearly highlights the mood and regard that the artist felt towards this great man.

“Raza has made many works of art in his lifetime using the ideology and words of Mahatma Gandhi; however this is the first time that an entire body of work has been dedicated to the Mahatma, by the master,” Reena Lath, Director, Akar Prakar gallery, informed IANS.

One of the paintings in the show, “Hey Ram,” done using very subdued tones, particularly stands out. “One late afternoon in 2013, I found him painting this canvas. I was intrigued as his usual geometrical shapes were not there,” poet Ashok Vajpeyi, a close friend of the late artist, recalled.

In this painting, Raza has inscribed Gandhi’s last words “Hey Ram” and has used white — an indication of both purity and hope — engulfing the canvas with mist or cloud of sadness. The solid columns seem to offer a certain defiance and stubbornness: the body is killed but the spirit survives.

Another work titled “Satya” is totally abstract, though its many layers suggest that truth can be felt only after passing through many layers of struggle. In “Shanti,” Raza returns to his favourite theme of peace, reminding the many viewers of this painting the message of Mahatma Gandhi.

Vajpeyi further said that Raza’s own dharma “was to paint” and that “he stayed true to his own philosophy, and painted continuously” till he passed away in July 2016.

The inauguration of the show will be accompanied by the launch of an 80-page book by the chief guest, French Ambassador Alexandre Ziegler.

The organisers said that the book contains essays by Nandalal Bose on Mahatma Gandhi and his bent towards fine art and aesthetics, Gopal Krishna Gandhi on Mahatma Gandhi and his truth and aesthetics, and Ashok Vajpeyi on the tribute of the paintings by Raza, along with illustrations of the works.

The show will then move to the Akar Prakar gallery in Hauz Khas Village here from March 1-31.