Veteran S.H. Raza’s bindu accompanied by Ashok Vajpeyi’s Hindi verses acquires deeper meanings of life in his series ‘Shabd-bindu’

In a recent interview, S.H. Raza says that he metaphorically never left India. And that his work has always encompassed his roots, delved within it and found meanings and answers. ‘Shabd-bindu’, which exhibits recent works by S.H. Raza and poetry by Ashok Vajpeyi is full of such artistic journeys.

The canvasses call out to the passers-by, stop them in their tracks and envelop them in a range of intense emotions. And if the person is not fully encapsulated by the colours and the poignancy of Raza’s art, Ashok Vajpeyi’s poems that explain the art itself, drop the little pieces of the puzzle into place. Together, the words and the brushstrokes form an infinite song, much like the infinity of the bindu that recurs in Raza’s art.

S.H. Raza, a legendary artist who has been living and painting in Paris for 60 years returned to Delhi recently. A recipient of the Padma Vibhushan, Fellowship of Lalit Kala Akademi, Kalidas Samman and other awards, he excels in bringing together Hindi verses and his world of colours. Vajpeyi, on the other hand, is a renowned Hindi poet-critic and a close friend of Raza. He has been awarded the Sahitya Akademi Puraskar, Kabir Samman and has been the trustee-secretary and chairman, Bharat Bhavan Bhopal and chairman, Lalit Kala Akademi. He is currently the executive trustee of Raza Foundation, Delhi.

‘Prarthana’ is a whole world in itself. Vajpeyi’s lines flow seamlessly, rendering the canvasses’ true meaning. It is a plea. A plea that the world is not just for one person. “How much do we need?” he argues passionately. The mini frames of Raza’s paintings reverberate with the intensity of his words. The painting is rich with dark colours, perhaps in anger and most of the bindus are black — denoting the path that we have taken. Vajpeyi talks about greed, and how it leads to destruction and the geometric patterns of Raza’s art point downwards, move in dark circles or are encased in a dark circle. And then, in the corners and in certain areas, there are bright colours, or white, and Vajpeyi submits that the world is there to share.

‘Uttarang’ has descending concentric triangles. And in the heart of it all, the bindhu is perched, pitch black and its blackness seeps into the triangle below. It talks of perspective. The more you grow, says Vajpeyi, the more you lose. You are at such a height (the bindu is right up) that you cannot bend down and touch the earth or even the food you eat. The colours are brighter as the painting ends and paler in the beginning.

The concentric circles in ‘Alingan’ glow with an almost ethereal quality. The leftover triangles on the side are coloured pastel green, yellow, red and blue, the colours of the elements. Vajpeyi talks about the circle of life, how every element is dependent on each other and how this has been the way of life for so many years. The circles each have two colours, yellow and grey or black and red or green and red — like they are interlinked and interdependent. In the end, as Vajpeyi says, it is an unending cycle.

It has been a hard life, full of trials for the boy who narrates the story to his mother. It is his journey through life that is ‘Kathin Dagar’. The landscape on canvas is intense, stroked with fiery red and deepened with black. It has many curves and dips and it looks like an arduous journey. The son explains to his mother about the things he goes through and how every time he is stuck, he remembers her sing ‘Raghupathi raghava raja ram…’ and it carries him through his ordeals.

‘Vriksha’ or tree is a depiction of life and realisations. Through Vajpeyi, the tree tells the world to stay rooted like itself. The earthen triangles move downwards towards the Earth as the bindu shines like a bright orange sun.

The show was held at Vivanta by Taj Connemara for three days and will be on display till December 20 at Ashvita, R.K. Salai, Mylapore.