This work relates closely to a painting by Raza from 1971, titled Bengla-Desh. This lithograph offered, as well as the painting, are historically important images, but perhaps even more for Raza an emotive one, as it marks the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971. Following Independence in 1947 from Britain the country was divided (Partition) into Pakistan and India. The former was further divided between West Pakistan and East Pakistan. Separated by nearly 1,500 kms of Indian territory. The Western section was politically isolated and had ethnic and linguistic differences from East Pakistan and in 1971 after a Civil War it itself declared independence and Modern day Bangladesh was formed.
Raza alludes to this division in this composition which is split in two. After the horrors and the bloodshed witnessed during the original divide Raza colours left section red, whilst the right half is a tangle of black lines and shapes. The left half alluding to a sky filled with blood, a fear or even a premonition of the artist, whilst the right half depicts the earth and in this case the landscape appears as like the alluvial plain on which much of Bangladesh is built.
Just as in Tyeb Mehta's diagonal series of the same period, both artists use this simple pictorial device to engage with the social and political events of this pivotal period.
Yashodhara Dalmia recounts that although Raza was living in Paris in 1971 the brutality of the War had a huge impact on him.
Dalmia, Yashodhara, The Making of Modern Indian Art: The Progressives, New Delhi, 2001, pl.111, p.156 (another edition)
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