Sayed Haider RAZA (1922-2016) started his artistic career in Mumbai, where he became an established artist and co-founder of the Progressivist Artists Group (1947), which he initiated with MF Husain, FN Souza, S.K Bakre K.H Ara and H.A.Gade. In 1950 he obtained a grant to study in France and spent sixty years living and working between Paris and Gorbio: a medieval village where he restored a house, set up an atelier, and lived for half the year.
Janine MONGILLAT (1930-2002) trained at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where she met Raza in 1953. They got married in 1959 after a long and passionate courtship reflected in Raza’s letters, which he kept and published*. The couple shared ideas, worked and traveled together; influencing each other’s work even as they took on different aesthetic forms.
Raza’s work creates colorful mental landscapes and abstractions of nature and is influenced by Indian miniatures, poetry and spirituality. Mongillat is more openly experimental and uses mixed media (painting, collage, imprint, assemblage and sculpture) to integrate a large range of materials and objects collected from daily life and her long stays in India.
The couple’s work has rarely been shown together, yet it reflects the complex and subtle ways that two artists can impact each other's ways of working and thinking.
*S.H.RAZA I Will Bring My Time : Love Letters, Vadehra Art Gallery,The Carnets Series 3, Delhi, nd
Catherine David is a French art historian, curator and museum director. David was the first woman and the first non-German speaker to curate documenta X in Kassel, Germany. David is currently deputy director of the National Museum of Modern Art at the Centre Georges Pompidou. She was born and lives in Paris.