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This chapter talks about Gond art and the paintings of Sayed Haider Raza. It teaches us about abstract art and folk art. We learn about the different techniques that artists use to express their thoughts, and the importance of things such as composition and colour.
Sayed Haider Raza
Sayed Haider Raza was a renowned Indian artist. His paintings are characterised by simple geometric shapes, striking colour combinations, captivating compositions and the colours blue and orange.
His paintings do not show lifelike human figures or scenes from the environment. They are in an abstract style. Such paintings are not inspired by external factors but come from the artist’s own inner mind. They are made by arranging shapes, lines and dots with attractive colour combinations.
Raza found his paintings through his study of Indian art and its heritage, cultural context and philosophy. His pictures display peace and life at the same time. His paintings are a visible form of very deep thoughts. Very few abstract paintings communicate with the viewers as much as Raza’s do.
Raza was born in a small village in Madhya Pradesh and began to paint at the age of twelve. He studied art at the ‘Chitrakala Mahavidyalaya’ at Nagpur and the J. J. School of Art in Mumbai. He also went to France to study Art. He decided to settle down there with a French wife. He won many national and international awards including all three Padma awards.
His paintings explored a spiritual and metaphysical path. The ‘bindu’ or point became the main point of his paintings. He said that his work was his own inner experience and involvement with the mysteries of nature and form expressed in colour, line, space and light. An artist’s thoughts might seem to be too complex when expressed through words. So, the effective medium of communication is his work- his paintings.
Raza had great creativity. His paintings are very expressive. He passed away on 23 July 2016 at the age of 94, leaving behind a legacy of paintings that depict extraordinary compositions.
Gond Art is a tribal art developed and preserved by the Gond tribal people of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. Their traditional tales say that they have lived in India for thousands of years even before the other inhabitants came here. The Gondi language is similar to Telugu, a Dravidian language.
Gond art has spread mainly in Central India. Originally, people used to draw pictures on the earthen walls of their houses. Most folk arts, including Gond art, involve natural techniques of preparing colours and the use of several mediums. They are passed on from generation to generation.
A house decorated with beautiful pictures creates a nice atmosphere. In folk arts, you prepare the ‘canvas’, or surface to draw on, yourself. So, creating folk art is a very enriching experience.
In the past, natural things such as soils of different shades, the juice of plants, leaves, tree bark, flowers, fruits, and coal and cow-dung were used to prepare colours. The different colours, textures and patterns lend a simplicity to the art. Gond art conveys deep thought in an easy manner.
In Gond art, the outlines may vary from artist to artist, but the designs inside make the whole picture lively and attractive. The designs include simple textures that use dots, straight lines, dotted lines, curvy shapes and circles. Colour is important for the total effect to be amazing and beautiful.
In the present, many men have taken up Gond art for money. But its roots probably lie in women’s daily chores like cleaning and decorating the house.
Both Raza’s art and Gond art have greatly enriched the tradition of art in India. Abstract art and folk art express the artist’s inner thoughts through simple shapes and lines and vibrant colours. This shows us how different kinds of art and artists use the tools available to them to express themselves. Art is a tool for self-expression as well a marker of cultural identity, and Raza’s paintings and Gond art are excellent examples of this.