Syed Haider Raza was born in Barbaria (Madhya Pradesh, India) in 1922. He received formal education in art from the Nagpur School of Art and then went on to the J. J. School of Art, Bombay for higher studies. S.H. Raza was actively involved in art movements in pre-independent India. He along with M. F. Hussain, founded the Progressive Artistís Group. He held several exhibitions of his paintings in India, which were incredibly successful. Eventually he received a scholarship from the French government to study art in 1950. He studied painting at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1950 to 1953.
The Progressive Artistís Group
Shortly after independence, a group of young enthusiastic painters decided that they needed new ways to express Independent India in the Modern World. The founder members were six very important artists, namely- K. H. Ara, S. K. Bakre, H. A. Gade, M.F. Husain, S.H. Raza and F. N. Souza. This group didnít have a very long run (it was dissolved in 1956), but it left an indelible impact on Modern Indian Art.
S.H. Raza in France
Raza paintings received much attention in France and he was awarded the Prix de la Critique in Paris, in 1956. The worldwide acclaim he has managed to garner is noteworthy to say the least .His individual exhibitions and participation in group shows and salons, including the International Biennales at Venice, Sao Paolo and Menton, and in the Triennale at New Delhi has made him a name to reckon with.
Razaís love for India
Subsequently, S.H. Raza revisited India several times. Since 1985 then he has made it a point to visit India every year to understand the Indian milieu better and maintain a tangible relationship with Indian concepts, contemporary art and life. The inner vitality and dynamism of India speaks to the painter in Raza. The energy, the spirit and quintessence of the land of his birth finds place in his canvases.
India bestowed all the honors possible upon her deserving son. In December 1978, the government of Madhya Pradesh, his native state, paid official homage to him and an exhibition of his works was held in Bhopal. He also received the prestigious Padma Shri by the President of India in 1981. The Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, also awarded him a fellowship in 1983.