Capturing an artist

By Shunashir Sen

Catch a film that offers a window into the time that SH Raza spent in Paris

Siene Port, a painting SH Raza made during his time in Paris

There is a particular incident that illustrates how SH Raza, one of India's greatest modernist painters, had a big heart. He was staying in Paris at the time, sharing living space with Ram Kumar, another great Indian artist.

And a highly reputable collector was about to call on them to inspect Kumar's paintings. So, Raza told Kumar that he was off for a stroll. But what about the fact that an influential person is about to visit, Kumar asked him. To which the latter replied, "I don't want to show him my works and dilute his attention. He's come here for you."

Raza at an event in Mumbai

That is the sort of magnanimity that Raza was famous for displaying throughout his life, and more details are available in a documentary on his life and times in the French capital, being screened in Mumbai this evening. Laurent Bregeat has directed the movie, called The Very Essence. And the screening is part of a larger exhibition of the master's works, on display at Piramal Museum of Art till October 28.

But there are many other examples, too, of Raza's large-heartedness. Ashvin Rajagopalan, the festival's co-curator, leaves us with a particular one. "He would never hesitate to share his client list with other artists, giving them leads on potential buyers," he shares, revealing how pettiness was never a flaw that sullied the master painter's personality.

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