Ninety Years in Nine Days

To celebrate the artist’s 90th birthday,the Raza Foundation has embarked upon a nine-day-long multi-arts festival.

Written by Pallavi Pundir | Published: February 16, 2012 2:33:32 am

Be it a simple bindu that his elementary teacher asked him to focus on years ago,or the ancient Indian temple symbols and scriptures such as pancha tatva (five elements) and kundalini (source of energy) that he tries to link to each other,Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan awardee Syed Haider Raza — who turns 90 on February 22 — is known for his tireless pursuit of art. To celebrate this,the Raza Foundation,instituted by the artist himself and now in its 11th year,will celebrate Raza through a nine-day multi-arts festival in the Capital titled ‘Aviraam’,which will showcase works and performances by the Raza Foundation awardees.

“For nine years,we’ve been giving away national awards in various fields of art and therefore,for this festival,we have roped in 35 out of 39 Raza awardees — 17 visual artists,seven poets and 11 classical musicians and dancers. The festival is called ‘Aviraam’ because Raza is a non-stop painter and even now,he paints everyday,” says Ashok Vajpeyi,executive trustee of the foundation,who is also a director of this first-ever festival.

In collaboration with India Habitat Centre,Vadehra Art Gallery and Sangeet Natak Akademi,the festival includes an exhibition with works by artists such as Atul Dodiya,Sujata Bajaj,Manish Pushkale and Yusuf,and performances by artistes such as Bharatnatyam dancer Malavika Sarukkar and vocalist Pt Satyasheel Deshpande. Raza says,“ I am so happy that we have been able to award nearly 40 young persons from all over the country. It makes me so happy to see that as many as 35 of them are featured in ‘Aviraam’. There could have been no better way of celebrating my 90 years except through saluting these young artists.”

The festival will be restricted to Delhi,given the limited resources since Raza funds it from his own pocket,and the foundation will also introduce new events to its annual calender this year. Vajpeyi adds,“Since this is the first time we are hosting a festival of such a magnitude,we will convert the awards into fellowships for young critics in various art fields. Secondly,we’re starting a series in collaboration with India International Centre called ‘Art Matters’,a monthly panel to discuss various aspects of art. Finally,we’re instituting seven annual memorial lectures named after artistes such as VS Gaitonde,Habib Tanvir and Kelucharan Mohapatra.”

The exhibition is on at Visual Art Gallery,IHC,till February 20 . Performances will be held at Meghdoot Theatre,Rabindra Bhavan,from February 17 to 21.

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