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Sayed Haider Raza, commonly known as S.H. Raza was one of India’s most renowned and eminent artists from the 20th century. His contribution has marked its footprint in the field of Indian Art forms and cultures.

Sir Sayed Haider Raza

Childhood and Education:

The patter of tiny feet of S.H. Raza was first heard in the village of Kakkaiya ( Madhya Pradesh of current Independent India). After completion of his elementary school at the place of his birth and afterward his secondary/ high school at Damoh, Madhya Pradesh. He started his first formal Education in Art at Nagpur School of Art, Nagpur ( 1939-1943).

His first hand on drawing can be traced back to his years of pre-adolescence, i.e, at the age of 12 Stepping forward in his formal studies he started his journey from Nagpur School of Art and was followed by Sir J. J. School of Art, Bombay he moved to France in October, 1950 with the privilege of having a scholarship from the Government of France and devoted his time and attention at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts (ENSB-A), Paris (1950-1953).


Sayed Haider Raza ,during the initial years of his career focused on expressing his work (paintings) specifically through the inner world of emotion rather than external reality. It did not take him many years to carve his name in the field of Art. Starting at the age of 12 he was able to hold his very first show at the age of 24 at Bombay Art Society in 1946, for which he was awarded with the Silver Medal of the Society. In the year of 1947 he co-founded the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group (PAG) with K. H. Ara and F. N. Souza. Which successfully stormed the Art world till 1956.

He finished his education in France in 1953. However, with the belief that his work will receive more appreciation from the European Art lovers he chose to remain in Paris. During his stay in Paris ,his paintings moved from expressionist and then moved towards greater abstraction and eventually incorporated elements from Indian scriptures. In 1956, he was awarded the prestigious Prix De La Critique. In 1962, he served at the University of California, Berkeley, USA as a visiting lecturer. He managed to influence American painters and learned from him the nuances of incorporating interesting Indian elements into Modern Art.

Return to India:

Being a creative person, with a view for some much needed change in his work he returned to his motherland India in 1970. He urged to search for a new direction in both his work as well as in personal life. He was in a quest for some significant role which will manifest his work in the coming future. In context with that urge for a change, he visited different parts of the country such as the majestic caves of Ajanta and Ellora and also visited many places including Gujarat, Rajasthan and Benaras. And this innate tendency of discovering insight, finally pulled its break with the finding of ‘ The Bindu System.’

Achievements and notable contribution to the society:

Sir S.H. Raza was a truly phenomenal artist and had innumerable contributions towards Modern Indian Art .Appreciations showered upon him in his time because his work never stopped developing as he always wanted and believed in constant growth. His exceptional way of formation gained many achievements during his lifetime.

One among his amazing compositions namely ‘ Saurashtra’, was sold for US $ 1.4 million at a Christie’s auction in 2010. In this painting the use of warm colors can be seen such as ochre yellow, saffron, crimson red, pale green and black. Even intersecting triangles are visible which clearly visualize Raza’s abstraction-ism style.


In February 2007, The Art Trust-Institute of Contemporary Indian Art (Mumbai) exhibited his artwork and consequently his work marked their presence in many dignified exhibitions all around India. Als, throughtout his career , he was successful in holding many solo exhibitions. He was the holder of numerous highest citizenship awards . some of his awards and recognitions are :

  1. Padma shree: The government of India in the year 1981, awarded S.H. Raza the prestigious Padma shree award , India;s fourth highest Civilian honour.
  2. Fellowship of the Lalit Kala Akademi: In the year 1981, the government of Delhi honourned him with this prestigious fellowship .
  3. Kalidas Samman:In 1992-92 , the government of Madhya Pradesh awarded him the Kalidas Samman ,which is given every year for contribution towards art.
  4. silver medal: In 1946 he won a silver medal for one of his displayed at the prestigious Bombay Art Society.
  5. Gold medal: Two years later , he went on to bag a gold medal t the same exhibition for one of his art works.
  6. Lalit Kala Ratna Puraskar : IN 2004, Lalit Kala Academy awarded him with this prestigious award.
  7. Doctor of Letters: The Indira Kala Sangeet Vishwavidyalaya, Chhattisgarh honoured him with D Litt in the year 2014.
  8. Commandeur de la legion D’ Honneur: The government of France in the year 2015, awarded the Legion of HOnour for his immense contribution to the field of arts in France .
  9. D Litt: He was once again awarded with D Litt in 2015 by Siva Nadar University , Greater Noida , Uttar Pradesh.
  10. Padma Bhushan : In 2007, the government of India honoured him the prestigious Padma Bhushan , India’s third highest civilian award.
  11. Padma Vibhushan : In 2013, he won the country’s second highest civilian award

Sir S.H. Raza with a view to promote the art among Indian youth , founded the ‘Raza Foundation’. Their main aim was to keep the authenticity of his work alive among the Indian Artists. To save and protect this work, art enthusiasts formed a committee in Paris under his name. This committee was open for joining hands with other similar organisations to promote their work.

As an encouragement for the youth of this generation they give the ‘ Annual Raza Foundation Award’ to young artists of India, He showcased different methods and techniques, however, his greatest legacy would be his inclusion of Indian scientific concepts into the world of Modern Art.

Demise of the great personality:

After returning to his motherland India in 2010, he spent the rest of his life in India. On July 23, 2016, Sayed Haider Raza took his last breath at the age of 94. People all over the world will remember him as one of India’s most prominent and influential painters.

Sir S.H Raza with his paintings


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