Sayed Haider Raza was born in Babaria, Madhya Pradesh, to Sayed Mohammed Razi, the Forest Ranger of the district and Tahira Begum, and it was here that he spent his early years and took to drawing at age 12; before moving to Damoh at age 13, where he completed his school from Government High School, Damoh. After high school, he studied further at the Nagpur School of Art (1939-43), followed by Sir J. J. School of Art, Bombay (1943–47), where he met his fellow progressive artists namely, Souza, Husain, K. H Ara before moving to France in October 1950 to study at the École Nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts (ENSB-A) in Paris, on a Govt. of France scholarship.
After his studies, he traveled across Europe, and continued to live and exhibit his work in Paris. He was later awarded the Prix de la critique in Paris in 1956, becoming the first non-French artist to receive the honor. He was then awarded the Padma Shri and Fellowship of the Lalit Kala Akademi in 1981, Padma Bhushan in 2007, and Padma Vibhushan in 2013. He was conferred with the highest French civilian honour, the Commandeur de la Legion d’honneur (Legion of Honor) on July 14, 2015.
Raza, a strong abstractionist and a colourist, resonates with strong Indian cosmological vibes and values. His own journey of discovering the concepts of Bindu, Prakriti Purusha, Kundalini, Panchtattva, Tribhuj, etc. and their representation through geometrical patterns, completed with the splash of rich gorgeous Indian colours, fills your heart with fascination.
Raza passed away in 2016.