Painting and poetry have a long history of togetherness both in India and the West. There have been many periods when they have shared the same set of motifs, symbolism and imagery, aesthetic beliefs: painting has been seen as poetry in colours and poetry as painting in words. Many artistic movements such as impressionism, surrealism, cubism etc in the West rose almost simultaneously in visual arts and literature, poetry and drama.
Unfortunately, in recent times, the dialogue between painting and poetry has weakened in spirit and impact. Sayed Haider Raza has been deeply interested in poetry, both of Hindi his mother tongue but also of such masters as Rilke, Ghalib etc. His longtime friend the Hindi poet Ashok Vajpeyi, while cultivating his own taste and interest in painting, has been providing him poetic companionship. Raza is one of the few Indian moderns, who like the miniature painters, have often inscribed lines of poetry on his canvases.
Painting has its own autonomous visual meaning and intimations; poetry equally embodies its own truth in verbal terms. When they come together they seem to provoke or resonate meanings and insights which would not be accessible by the exclusively visual or verbal means.
Paintings of Raza and poems of Ashok Vajpeyi exist and reverberate in a dialogue: creative, in silence without intruding on each other’s space. The colours speak like words, the words glow like colours.