The Centre Pompidou, Paris, will hold the first-ever retrospective of Sayed Haider Raza’s work in Europe, in 2023. The tribute to the artist, “S.H. Raza (1922-2016)”, will be presented in the exhibition galleries of the Parisian museum from 15 February to 15 May 2023. The Ambassador of France to India, Mr Emmanuel Lenain, today hosted a curtain-raiser to the upcoming exhibition, at the Residence of France in the presence of the Hon’ble Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture, Smt Meenakshi Lekhi, as Guest of Honour.
Through this exhibition, the Centre Pompidou (France’s national museum of Modern Art) will retrace the footsteps of the painter’s Indo-French career, which was marked by trips between his motherland and his adopted country. The exhibition, which presents the formal evolution of the artist’s work, sheds fresh light on his formative years in Mumbai before his departure for Paris in 1950. On his return to India in 2011 – after more than sixty years in France, where he was influenced by the School of Paris and the landscapes of southern France, where he built his studio – Raza embodied this bridge between French and Indian cultures more than ever before.
Announcing the exhibition, Ambassador Emmanuel Lenain said: “This exhibition will mark a highly symbolic moment of the representation of Indian culture and artistic heritage in France. It will also be an opportunity to promote the key role of artistic mobility – students, artists, curators, and researchers – in the ties between our two countries. It is they who bring alive the dialogue between French and Indian cultures.”
The “S.H. Raza (1922-2016)” exhibition is the result of a long collaboration between the Centre Pompidou and Raza Foundation, headed by Ashok Vajpeyi, which actively promotes the artist’s legacy in India and around the world. The Embassy of France and the French Institute in India have helped bring together the project’s stakeholders, and have enabled French scientific teams to visit India on several occasions to deepen their knowledge of the national and private collections of Raza’s works.
Art and culture are strong drivers of our societies’ innovation and attractiveness. France intends to strengthen its cooperation policy in this area, especially to the benefit of younger generations by fostering greater artistic mobility between our two countries.
This year, more than 5,000 Indian students are benefiting from studies in France, many of whom have enrolled in schools of art, design, architecture, urban planning, theatre, etc. When Raza stayed in France for the first time, it was thanks to a scholarship granted by the French government, which financed his studies at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts. Student mobility with India is a core priority for France. During her India visit last September, Foreign Affairs Minister Catherine Colonna reiterated France’s goal to welcome 20,000 Indian students by 2025.
Cultural mobility works in both directions. Initiated in 2010, the Focus programme of the Institut Français Paris invites Indian personalities every year to participate in major cultural programmes in France and meet potential cultural partners. This initiative has generated numerous partnerships and cross-invitations of French artists to India. For example, in 2022, in the contemporary visual arts sector, around fifteen French artists have been invited to the flagship events of December: the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, and the Serendipity Arts Festival.
In addition, long-term exchanges have emerged through the many artist residency programmes between France and India. More and more Indian artists are benefiting from residencies in France, and vice versa, a momentum that the French Institute in India will further boost in the coming months. Residency initiatives are supported by various public and private partners in India, including the Raza Foundation, with the aim to offer a creative framework conducive to artists and to promote the visibility of their work to a wide audience.