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Works of Raza, Krishen Khanna, their exchanged letters on display

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New Delhi, Feb 25 (IANS) The works of two of India’s most-collected modernist artists, Sayed Haider Raza and Krishen Khanna, have come together in an exhibition here, coupled with snippets from their exchanged letters that express a solidarity beyond borders.

The ongoing ‘Yugma II’ displays Raza’s and his contemporary Krishen Khanna’s works having different artistic styles but connected by their written correspondence.

The art exhibition is part of the ongoing Raza Utsav, presented by the Raza Foundation at the Vadehra Art Gallery here and will run till March 22.

Raza, who moved to France in 1950 and lived there for the next 60 years, frequently exchanged letters with Khanna.

"At that time, these artists were close to each other, they discussed their work, and they needed each other. These letters are good examples of their relationship and state of mind," gallery director Sonia Ballaney told IANS.

"I am sitting under my beloved olive trees, in front of a small red canvas, and paints and brushes that are calling to me irresistibly. I have chosen to concentrate on this blank sheet of paper…I would like to give you news from here, my impressions of the Geneva show and my plans for the months to come," Raza had written to Khanna in a letter dated August 9, 1987, from Gorbio, France.

It was printed in the Raza Foundation’s series of letters "My Dear", published by Vadehra Art Gallery.

"Janine (Mongillat, Raza’s wife) and I are working hard. For me, it’s a period where every painting is taking a lot of time. I can hardly say why. Besides, I have taken to fairly large canvases, but not too big really when one thinks of the eight and ten yards that Husain or Akbar cover with such facility.

"Anyway, size is not important. My eternal problem is of the ‘image’, which seems to escape with an overgrowing obsession of form," a snippet from another of Raza’s letters in 1960 read.

A glimpse into their personal artistic development, the letters also revealed their deep personal connect.

A letter from Khanna in 1985, right after his father’s death, said: "I am completely overwhelmed by your letter which arrived yesterday. You cannot imagine how close I felt, it was as if you had put your arms around me at a moment of great personal desolation."

A walk through the exhibition can lead one to trace the developments that were recorded so intimately in these letters, whether it’s Raza’s large canvasses or Khanna’s personal reflections.


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