A A Raiba - An Unfinished Practice

In the early months of 1943, Abdul Aziz Raiba began his association with the Sir JJ School of Art after being offered a scholarship by the dean Charles Gerard. He graduated with a Diploma in Fine Arts in 1946, and was appointed a Fellow to the painting department for a year in 1947. He returned to his alma mater in 1980 enrolling himself for an evening hobby course in Graphic Print Making at the Print-Making Studio while accompanying his senior who was seeking admission at the Faculty of Architecture. Seven decades later Raiba returns to the College with a retrospective that inquires into his practice, exploring his experimentations with medium, methods of research that inform the subject of his paintings and the unique approach towards exhibition making. Though considered a master by many of his contemporaries, and in spite of receiving excellent critical reviews of his exhibitions, he fell into obscurity as he never saw equal success commercially as the other modernists of his time. Secondly he would prepare extremely researched exhibitions that would study a subject in detail. Exhibitions would be based on themes such as the History of Bombay, Kashmir: Miniature to Monumentalism, Metaphysical Paintings, the Baramasa of Keshavdas, Mirza Ghalib and Islamic Calligraphy. He would design invites in innovative shapes and Moderist typography, and being a poet himself incorporated translations of Allama Iqbal and stylistic elements of Islamic calligraphy. In one of his last self-designed invitations, he apologises for the lack of a large body of works. His inability to create a substantial body of work, and self-curated shows, led him into retirement from actively exhibiting in the 1990s. Over the last decade having been cheated by unscrupulous dealers and lacking motivation to engage with the art market, he withrew from public view. Raiba believes his practice to be unfinished even today.


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