Have returned as more intense an Indian: S H Raza

SH Raza returned home after practicing art for six decades in a foreign country but for the renowned artist the feeling of being an Indian never ceased.

Last Updated: Jan 24, 2011, 20:14 PM IST

Jaipur: SH Raza returned home after
practicing art for six decades in a foreign country but for
the renowned artist the feeling of being an Indian never
ceased.

The 89-year-old, in fact, says he has returned to the
country as "more intense an Indian".

Asked what prompted him to return to his native land
after spending almost a lifetime in France, Raza retorted,
"You ask me why I return to India now, my answer is I have
never left India."

"I never left India. I have retained my nationality. I
still have an Indian passport, and it is not only a
sentimental approach but an artistic one," he said.

He said, "I did not return to France as a French. I
returned as more intense an Indian," he said.

When he felt that his art work is not reflective enough
of his identity as an Indian, Raza turned to the `bindu`,
which is considered as a starting point of everything in Hindu
philosophy.

He said at the back of his mind, he has always played the
thought that he did not want to neglect his culture and his
identity that was defined by his Indianness.

"Despite being a successful painter in Paris for many
years, I used to ask myself in the solitude of the night where
is India in your work Raza?" he said, talking about his
decision to return to India and his art work at the Jaipur
Literature Festival.

When this question penetrated deeper into his heart, his
reflex action was to turn for a greater reading of Indian
philosophy.

About bindu, which has become his signature style over
the years, Raza says that not many people understand that it
stands for the five elements that create and compose the
universe.

Incidentally, the symbol was first introduced to Raza,
who was a very poor student, by his teacher.

"I started studying Indian art in the 1980s after I had
already acquired something in life. I needed another 20 years
of very hard work to understand panchtatva (the five elements)
and understand Indian art.

"Indian art goes beyond the comprehension of eyes.

It deals with much more that can be seen through the two
eyes, to understand it you have to bring your senses
together," he said.

Raza rues the fact that many Indians who step out of the
country tend to shed their Indianness to assimilate into the
new cultures they find themselves in, which he finds is the
wrong approach.

He advised the young artists not to rush to the find a
conclusion to their works, rather they should spend time to
locate their own vision.

"I spent 30 years of my life in Nagpur and Mumbai to
know what is painting.

Today young painters want to exhibit their works after 2
to 3 years.

They should search for their own vision," he said.

PTI