Syed Haider Raza (1922-2016)

S.H. Raza in his studio
Raza during his early years in his Paris studio

A dot marks an end in script. However, when speaking of Syed Haider Raza, a special legend it led to new beginnings, both in his early years and later in his art journey. Raza was a restless young man with an unbridled mind. While at school, his teacher drew a dot on a wall, trying to make him focus on it with the intention of calming his wandering mind. Raza recollects this incident as formative in his approach to art and even life.

A visual depiction of the sacred through the modern idiom invokes only one name in Indian art – Raza. His early years by the Narmada valley shaped his perspectives on culture, tradition, religion and their broader interpretations through art. His deep meditations on these subjects, all through his artistic journey, resulted in the emergence of a unique motif in Indian contemporary art – the ‘bindu’.

Raza’s art was nothing short of an obsession. This obsession wasn’t limited to a certain theme, but was a quality of mind that pursued everything it touched – whether it be geometry, theology or natural phenomena – with an encompassing intensity. His fascination and love for poetry, nature, and the elements at large inspired him. His exposure and training in Paris were ideal in shaping this enthusiasm. Raza’s landscapes were therefore strong, vibrant and even his ‘Bindu’ was derived from the intimacy he maintained with his themes. He reflects on this in his own words: “Painting is something alive as human beings in its different manifestations… It is a vital process of becoming. Just imagine how fascinating it is that the seed contains the total inherent forces of a plant, of animal life, and so on and so forth. And that could be the same process in form too!”

Raza will be remembered as an indispensable force that energised the modern art movement in India. His emergence as a modern artist was at a time when the genre was struggling to find its unique language in the country and his was an influence that catalysed this seminal art movement.

At 94, Raza left behind a verse from the Bhagavad Gita in his personal diary:
Hidden in Nature, which is Mine [My] own,
I emanate forth again and again
All these multitudes of being
necessarily by the force of nature.

Bhagavad Gita – IX, 8.

Raza found and met art at the source of his being; the beauty of this encounter is that it is one that continues to flourish, in the minds of all those who seek from it, even in times that know him no more.


Kalapathy Ganapathy Subramanyan (1924-2016)


Kalapathy Ganapathy Subramanyan, fondly referred to as ‘Mani-da’, was a student at the Presidency College. He grew up under the influence of the Indian nationalist movement that was sweeping through much of British India. A Gandhian at heart, he participated in the Quit India Movement. Having learnt that Rabindranath Tagore’s Santiniketan was a destination of sorts for nationalists and artistes alike, Subrahmanyan began his artistic journey at the Visvabharati’s Kala Bhavan, where he had had the distinct privilege of training under stalwarts like Nandalal Bose, Ramkinkar Baij and Benode Behari Mukherjee.

Subramanyan tended to view art integrally and did not restrict him self to any particular artistic tradition. He worked on children’s illustrations, toy-making, wood-cut printing, terracotta reliefs and glass painting; he also developed a deep understanding of the mural traditions in India while apprenticing under Benode Behari Mukherjee.

Subramanyan’s approach, similar to his contemporaries, was influenced by European modernism; but his art practice which was very individualistic and progressive, based on his deep understanding of folk and rustic cultures in India. His style encompassed the formal contours of modernism, Santinikentan’s narrative tradition and the visual skill of Indian folk traditions. He engaged with complex images that were steeped in myth and narrative and improvised through various levels including technique, practice and skill. His search for pure meaning was evident in his work; in this effort, nothing was excluded — contrasting elements of life, including conflict and serenity, love and disdain, truth and denial, had their place in the scheme of this thought. In this was included irony, a certain sense of revisionism and a freedom from defined genres. In his own words, he says: “My work, so to say, deconstructs an old concept and sees its similarities with others.”

Subramanyan was also an accomplished writer and would often elaborate on his creative themes through his essays and stories. This quality of Manida being a storyteller was infused in his work very significantly.

His legacy was unparalleled both as an artist and teacher that served to inspire an entire generation of Indian artists after him.

K. G. Subrahmanyan’s passing away has created a vacuum in Indian art – not just of an extraordinary artist, but of a writer, teacher and philosopher. His contribution stands in many shades and isn’t likely to fade in our memory klicka här nu.


A click-and-mortar gallery for South Asian art


F. N. Souza – ‘Head’ – acrylic and black marker pen on colour printed paper

Published: 15:26 March 2, 2016 (Gulf News)

By Jyoti Kalsi (Special to Weekend Review)

This month, Artiana will hold its first auction of 60 lots that include paintings, works on paper and sculptures by modern masters and contemporary artists

Artiana, an online auction platform for modern and contemporary South Asian art will hold its first auction from March 17 to March 21. The 60 lots on sale include oil and acrylic paintings, works on paper and sculptures by modern masters and leading contemporary artists from South Asia such as S.H. Raza, F.N. Souza, Ganesh Pyne, M.F. Hussain, Akbar Padamsee, Jehangir Sabavala, Sakti Burman, Laxma Goud, Himmat Shah, Ismail Gulgee, Senaka Senanayake and George Keyt.

The artworks can be viewed at Artiana’s viewing gallery in Business Bay, Dubai, and online at The auction will commence at 6pm on March 17 with the final sales beginning at 7pm on March 21. Registered buyers can also place advance bids. A unique feature of this virtual auction house is that it does not charge a buyers’ premium on sales.

Artiana has been founded by Lavesh Jagasia, an art connoisseur, collector and consultant, who runs the Dubai-based art consultancy, The Fine Art Advisory, and art publishing company, The Serigraph Studio, which collaborates with leading South Asian artists to create high-quality serigraphs of their works.

“Artiana bridges the gap between traditional and online auction houses with a unique click-and-mortar hybrid that offers personalised client consultations, printed auction catalogues and a viewing gallery, along with timed online auctions that are accessible to people living in different time zones, and in-house delivery and logistics infrastructure. Our aim is to offer collectors of South Asian art from around the globe an opportunity to acquire genuine artworks at fair prices. We want to redefine and streamline the auction process, and create a seamless and transparent interface between buyers and sellers, that delivers the excitement of art auctions through the convenient medium of the internet,” Jagasia says.

“As a collector, I know how stressful it is to make quick bidding decisions in the charged, competitive atmosphere of an auction house. Buyers also have to keep in mind the buyers’ premium that ranges from 20 to 35 per cent of the sale price, while making their bid. With our state-of-the-art proprietary auction application software, registered buyers can bid from the comfort of their home, and from any android or iOS device, either before or during the auction. With no premium or taxes to pay, buyers will pay exactly the amount they have bid, while sellers will get access to a global market as well as the best possible price,” he adds.

The artworks will be displayed at Artiana’s viewing gallery in Business Bay, Dubai until March 16. For viewing appointments and buyer registration, write to [email protected]

Artist Jehangir Sabavala passes away

Jehangir Sabavala passes away

Hindustan Times, Saturday, September 03, 2011

Riddhi Doshi  ([email protected])

MUMBAI: Jehangir Sabavala, Padmashree awardee and master artist, died at Breach Candy Hospital on Friday morning of complications caused by lung cancer. He was 89. “Jehangir had been unwell for two years and was frequently in and out of hospital,” said close friend Lavesh Jagasia, an art entrepreneur. The renowned Parsi painter is survived by wife Shirin and daughter Mafreed. He was cremated at Chandanwadi, Marine Lines, on Friday afternoon, in keeping with his wishes. Jagasia met Sabavala a week before his death and said the dapper artist was his usual energetic self, “dressed perfectly in a crisp shirt and cravat.” Sabavala, known for the integrity and unique language of his art, created only five or six canvasses a year but was known as a pioneer of the contemporary Indian art scene. “Despite studying art in London and Paris, Sabavala returned to India to practice here and develop his own unique art language,” said Pheroza Godrej, owner of Breach Candy’s Cymroza art gallery. He was a very giving, generous person, adds Geeta Mehra, owner of Sakshi art gallery, which organised a retrospective of Sabavala’s works four years ago. “His works had a haunting and magnetic aura. He nurtured many young artists and had time for everybody. It is difficult to come to terms with the fact that he is not with us any more.

Rising graph of reprints

(By Jyoti Kalsi, Special To Weekend Review, Published: 00:30 February 29, 2008)S.H.Raza & Lavesh Jagasia copy 2

Over the past few years, the demand for contemporary Indian art has seen a boom in the international art market. As a result, original works by established artists are not easily available and they command prices that keep them out of reach of art collectors. That is where Lavesh Jagasia comes in. An avid collector of Indian art, the former fashion designer had the foresight to realise that with the rapid development of the market, collectors would turn to limited edition fine art prints to fulfil the desire of owning works by their favourite artists.

“In all mature art markets, there is hectic activity in the prints market with those by eminent artists fetching thousands of dollars. About seven years ago, I saw that contemporary Indian and Chinese art was moving in that direction but nobody in India was addressing the need at that time,” Jagasia said.

Having been a collector for over 15 years, he had good relationships with many leading artists and approached them with the idea of creating limited edition fine art prints of their important works.
“They agreed because they trusted me and my knowledge of their work. Some of them did express concern that it might be unprofitable for me. “And they were quite justified in thinking so because in the 1970s I had arranged an exhibition of lithographs by M.F. Husain and Tyeb Mehta. We were selling them for just Rs20 and yet we did not sell a single piece,” he recalled.

Unlimited dividends

But this time he was convinced that the secondary art market in India was mature and ready.Jagasia gave up his career as a designer to launch The Serigraph Studio, a fine art publishing company that represents eminent contemporary Indian artists such as S.H. Raza, Jogen Chowdhury, Paritosh Sen, Ram Kumar, Jehangir Sabavala, K.G. Subramanyam, Rameshwar Broota, Sakti Burman, Ganesh Haloi, Lalu Prosad Shaw, Manu Parekh and Amit Ambalal.

Jagasia’s foresight has paid off. At recent auctions in India and abroad, his serigraphs have fetched three times the original issue price just three months after release.
“I was happy to note that at a recent auction in India, original works by well-known artists remained unsold while there was brisk bidding for our serigraphs,” he said.
The Serigraph Studio functions through art galleries, dealers and consultants and has a website [].
It has now come to Dubai and is the first and only fine art publishing service that is providing serigraphs by leading contemporary Indian artists.
“I plan to work closely with local galleries and financial institutions in Dubai. I would like to work with galleries that have not exhibited Indian artists because, besides addressing Indian collectors in this region, I want to widen the base of collectors of contemporary Indian art to other nationalities living here.
Understandably, most collectors are reluctant to spend big money on names they are not familiar with.
But the reasonable prices of our serigraphs should make it easier for us to reach out to new collectors, galleries and investors and introduce them to contemporary Indian art,” Jagasia said. “We would also like to look at creating serigraphs of artworks by artists from this region.”
Jagasia is confident of building a huge cross-cultural base of collectors in this region.
“Collectors are assured of appreciation because our serigraphs are approved, supervised and signed by the artist. They are released in a limited edition of 125 prints and we provide a certificate of authenticity guaranteeing that no more prints of that composition will be made.
In fact, an increase in value is inherent in our sale process. We make prints in two sizes — 22 inches by 30 inches and 44 inches by 30 inches. The first 25 prints of the smaller size are sold for $1,000 and the bigger ones for $1,750.
The price increases by 20 per cent after every 25 prints sold — so the last lot of 25 becomes double the original price. And since our artists are all eminent names, buyers can expect appreciation within three to five years.”
Interestingly, the price is the same for every artist — regardless of their stature, age and market value — giving discerning buyer an arbitrage opportunity.
Jagasia explained that collectible fine art prints could be of various types — such as lithographs, linocuts, woodcuts, etchings and engravings. But he chose to create only serigraphs because this technique produces prints that are closest to the original painting.
“The word ‘serigraph’ means to draw through silk and it is so named because, in the old days, the stencil used for pushing the pigment out on the paper was made of fine silk.
“Unlike offset prints, our serigraphs are fine art prints made by the screen printing method through printers in the UK and Europe,” he said.
The process — from selecting artworks to the exhibition of the serigraphs — takes one year. “We try to select paintings that represent seminal works from the artists’ careers so that their most important works are seen by a wider audience.
“This has brought us unexpected dividends. We expected a clientele that cannot afford original works but our choice of artworks has attracted collectors looking for limited edition prints of important artworks that are not available in the market,” Jagasia said.
His advice to investors: “First, buy something that you like and can live with. Secondly, be prepared to hold the artwork for three to five years,” he said.
He added: “The house of Armani has the couture Giogio Armani label, urban chic Emporio Armani label and the ready to wear Armani Exchange line. Serigraphs are like the Armani Exchange label. Just like it makes sense to stick to brands it is safer to buy prints of good established artists.”