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Raza Festival

"To draw and paint is an elementary thing, it has to be done. But it can be a mental process, intellectual process, thought process." - S.H. Raza

We, at Kolkata Centre for Creativity, in collaboration with the Raza Foundation, have organised the Raza Festival to celebrate the life and work of S.H. Raza. This Festival will bring together artists from various disciplines to approach abstraction from the perspective of their respective disciplines. While the exhibition Raza Veethika will showcase prints of Sayed Haider Raza’s artworks and selected originals from the collection of Emami Group of Companies; dance and music performances (Raza Valay) and talk sessions (Raza Varta) will seek to explore the concept of abstraction in the works of S.H. Raza and otherwise. Raza Varta will feature dignitaries like Dr. Geeti Sen (art and cultural historian and former chief editor at India International Centre, New Delhi), Ms. Jesal Thacker (Founder & Director, Bodhana Arts & Research Foundation), Mr. Nanak Ganguly (eminent curator and art critic), and Mr. Udayan Vajpeyi (renowned Hindi poet and writer). Performances by young performers, Pritha Chatterjee (vocalist and music researcher) and Monami Nandy (Odissi dancer); and Priti Patel (Manipuri exponent) and Pt. Uday Bhawalkar (distinguished Dhrupad vocalist) will add to the ambience of the Raza festival. 


Kolkata Centre for Creativity, in collaboration with the Raza Foundation, is organising the Raza Festival to celebrate the life and work of Sayed Haider Raza. This Festival will bring together eminent artists and scholars from various disciplines to approach abstraction from the perspective of their respective disciplines through performances and talk sessions. 

About the Artist

Sayed Haider Raza (1922 - 2016) is considered one of the most prominent Indian painters of his generation. He is the most well-known Indian abstract painter till date. Born in Babaria, India, Raza studied art from an early age, before moving to France in 1950 to study at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. After studying in Paris, Raza continued to travel throughout Europe, exhibiting his work. Raza was a co-founder of the revolutionary Bombay Progressive Artists' Group (PAG), along with Indian artists Krishna Hawlaji Ara (1914–1985) and Francis Newton Souza (1924–2002). This movement sought to turn away from the influences of European Realism—which dominated much of the academic art of India—and embrace Antar gyan , a uniquely-Indian inner vision. His early works include landscapes, and later moved towards abstraction as he became increasingly influenced by Modernist principles. 1970 was a turning point in Raza’s career, when he developed the concept of Bindu (a personal rebirth) in his art. The works from this period are more intricately linked to Indian roots and cultural themes, and were influenced by his trips back to India. Raza is a founder of the Raza Foundation in India, which gives away the Annual Raza Foundation Award to emerging artists. In 2010, Christie’s sold his work Saurashtra for US$3.4 million, a record-breaking price for a living Indian artist. His work has been exhibited at the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi, and is part of many international collections.

Programme Plan

12 Dec 2021
a) Raza Veethika (A show of Raza's prints and selected originals opens)
b) A film on Raza 'The Very Essence’ directed by Laurent Bregeat

14 Dec 2021
a) Raza Vaarta on 'Abstraction in Poetry, Cinema and Architecture’. Speakers and Moderator are given below: - 
i) Dr. Geeti Sen (Delhi) 
ii) Ms. Jesal Thacker (Mumbai) 
iii) Mr. Nanak Ganguly (Kolkata) 
iv) Dr. Sampurna Chakraborty (Kolkata) – Moderator  
b) Raza Veethika continues

15 Dec 2021
a) Raza Vaarta on 'Abstraction in Poetry, Cinema and Architecture’: 
i) Udayan Vajpeyi (Bhopal) 
ii) Ms. Jesal Thacker (Mumbai) 
iii) Raza Veethika continues

16th Dec 2021
a) Raza Valay on Classical music recital by a Kolkata young musician and new Raza-inspired choreographic performance by Pritha Chatterjee followed by Priti Patel (Kolkata)
b) Raza Veethika continues

17th Dec 2021
a) Raza Veethika continues 

18th Dec 2021
a) Raza Valay: A dance recital by a young dancer from Kolkata and classical music recital by a senior musician - Monami Nandy, followed by Uday Bhawalkar
b) Raza Veethika concludes.

The Raza Festival (12th-18th December, 2021), organised by KCC in collaboration with the Raza Foundation, will be a celebration of the life and work of S.H. Raza through Raza Veethika, an exhibition comprising prints of Raza's works and selected originals from the collection of Emami Group of Companies. This Festival, which consists of talk sessions and performances, will also bring together distinguished artists and scholars from various disciplines to approach the concept of abstraction from the perspective of their respective disciplines.

check out the program schedule
The Raza Festival, organised by KCC in collaboration with the Raza Foundation, will be a celebration of the life and work of S.H. Raza. Join us for a special screening of a film on Raza directed by Laurent Bregeat, 'The Very Essence'.

The film traces the evolution of Raza's style over the years - from the early landscapes of his childhood in the forests of Madhya Pradesh to its culmination into the final non-representational style that expressed itself in the iconic "Bindu". Let us embark on this journey together and mark the beginning of our week-long Raza Festival.

Venue: KCC (1st Floor)
Date: 12th December, 2021
Time: 16:00 hrs

Bio of the Performers

Monami Nandy - Monami Nandy is trained in Indian classical dance Odissi. She is a senior disciple of guru Smt. Sharmila Biswas, also a senior repertory dancer at the Odissi Vision and Movement centre (OVM), Kolkata. As a part of OVM repertory group she has performed at various national dance festivals including Khajuraho, Konark, Dhauli, Nishagandhi, NCPA Mumbai, Nritya Sanrachna, Navaneetham Monsoon Festival, Mahagami, and Darpana. She has also travelled to the USA and Vietnam to perform at international dance festivals. As a Soloist, she has performed In Emerging Artists' Performance, Kolkata, organized by Kolkata Centre for Creativity; Panchamam, Hyderabad, organized by Lasyakalpa Foundation for Arts; Natya Vriksha Young Dancer’s Festival, Delhi, organized by Smt Geeta Chandran; and Rasanubhuti, organized by IIT Guwahati and many more. Monami has been receiving her training in Sambalpuri folk dance, Mayurbhanj Chhau, ‘Navarasa Sadhana’ under the guidance of Guru G. Venu, and Kalaripayattu under the guidance of Kalarigram. She has also participated in Kutiyattam workshop facilitated by Sri. Amannur Rajaneesh Chakyar.
Pritha Chatterjee - Pritha Chatterjee received her initial training in Hindustani classical music from Guru Shri Manik Sanyal. Later she received formal training in Rabindrasangeet from Smt. Kumkum Mitra who was a disciple of Rabindrasangeetacharya Sri Shailajaranjan Majumder. Pritha has also obtained a Master's degree in vocal music (Khayal) from Rabindra Bharati University. She is an empanelled artist of both AIR and Doordarshan. From 2016 to this day she has been continuing her musical education under the auspices of Guru Vidushi Shubhra Guha of Agra gharana. Apart from vocal music, Pritha is a mental health enthusiast - sound healing and therapy being her special area of interest. She is also a researcher, writer and an academic, teaching English Literature in a college in Kolkata.
Priti Patel - Priti Patel was initiated into the world of dance at the age of five and received her training from eminent Manipuri dance gurus, Late Guru Bipin Singh and the Jhaveri Sisters. Through the rigorous training she underwent under her Gurus, especially Smt. Darshana Jhaveri, she excelled as a danseuse in this form of dance and especially in the Vaishnavite Ras Leela form of the Manipuri dance tradition. She then went on to take lessons in the pre-Vaishnavite dance forms of Thang-ta and Lai Haraoba, the martial and ritualistic forms of the Manipuri dance tradition respectively. With the intention of imparting education in this unique dance tradition, Ms.Patel laid the foundation of a school called ‘Anjika’ in Kolkata. This school has a dual curriculum that includes movement therapy for children suffering from cerebral palsy. This aspect is strengthened by the fact that she has undergone formal training from the Lesley College, Boston, USA, in dance and movement therapy and has worked with special children in collaboration with the Indian Institute for cerebral palsy. Over the years, under her leadership, Anjika has performed in several prestigious dance shows all over the world and has won a number of laurels and accolades for itself. Ms.Patel and Anjika are the recipients of several awards and felicitations including the Raza Foundation Award for contribution to Manipuri dance (2008), the Fulbright Fellowship for Performing Arts (2000- 2001); the Second Mrinalini Sarabhai Award for excellence in Classical Dance (2000), and the Shiromani Award (1990), amongst others. 

Uday Bhawalkar - Uday Bhawalkar is among the foremost Dhrupad vocalists and has been a strong force in its growing recognition, popularity and  resurgence worldwide. He’s a disciple of Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar (vocal) and Ustad Zia Mohiuddin Dagar (Rudra-Veena). Pt. Bhawalkar has performed in a number of prestigious festivals and events in India and abroad. Pt. Bhawalkar has widely performed in the UK, Europe, USA, Morocco, Canada, Mexico, Singapore, Japan and Israel. He has also collaborated with artists from other disciplines and cultures. He has contributed to the soundtracks for international art films . Pt. Bhawalkar has taught internationally at institutions such as the Rotterdam Music Conservatory, The University of Washington, Seattle and the Asian music circuit, London, to name a few. He is a Guru at the ITC Sangeet Research Academy at Kolkata, Benegal Foundation’s "Parampara Sangeetalay”, Dhaka, Bangladesh and Avartan Gurukul, Pune.
 In recognition for his artistry he has received many prestigious awards including the Kumar Gandharva Samman given by the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh (2001) and the Raza Foundation Award (2007 ) given personally by the eminent painter S H Raza . 

Bio of the Speakers

Dr. Geeti Sen - Dr. Geeti Sen is a cultural historian and author of six major books on Indian art. She was an art critic for the Times of India, Mumbai, and for India Today, and assistant editor at Marg, Mumbai. From 1982 to 2006 she was the chief editor of publications at the India International Centre, New Delhi. Presently, she is director of the Indian Cultural Centre in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Ms. Jesal Thacker - Jesal Thacker is an artist by training, but she chose to pursue scholarship in art instead of art practice. A graduate with a degree in painting from Sir J.J. School of Art, Mumbai, she engages with research on modern and contemporary Indian art. In 2005, she set up Bodhana, a not-for-profit organisation that would fulfill her vision of researching and publishing books on Indian art. She is engaged in studying the history of India’s modernism with a focus on abstraction. 

Mr. Nanak Ganguly -Nanak Ganguly is an independent curator and critic based in Kolkata. He has written extensively for The Statesman, Asian Age, Business and Political Observer, Deccan Chronicle, and others. He was appointed the Commissioner of VIIIth Pan Asia- Pacific Art Biennale by Lalit Kala Akademi in 1997. He has curated shows in New York, Tokyo, Singapore, New Delhi, London, Kolkata, Hyderabad (CCMB) and Mumbai. 

Sampurna Chakraborty - Sampurna Chakraborty is an art historian and writer, working on Institutional History, Art Pedagogy Archival Methodologies, Spectator Participant Methodology and Participatory Curatorial Cultures. She is currently pursuing her PhD research from the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences and is based in Kolkata. 

Mr. Udayan Vajpeyi - Udayan Vajpeyi is a poet and writer of short-stories, essays and translations. He has translated renowned Indian philosopher Ramachandra Gandhi’s book Sita’s Kitchen, as well as texts of Anton Chekhov (Russia), Shuntaro Tanikawa (Japan), etc., into Hindi. In addition to the above, Mr. Vajpeyi has edited magazines and journals. He has lectured on the arts and literature in India and abroad and has participated in various poetry festivals. Mr. Vajpeyi’s poems, short-stories and essays have been translated into several languages including Bengali, Kannada, English, French, Swedish, Polish, and Bulgarian, amongst others. He is a recipient of the Krishna Baldev Vaid Award (2001) and the Raza Foundation Award (2003).