Syed Haider Raza

Bombay Progressive Artists' Group

Origin of Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group - 

The same year India got its independence in 1947, the Bombay Progressive Artists' Group was formed that came as a symbolic orchestration as well as a conscious artistic departure from Western paradigms of art and the pre-independence domination of colonial academic realis, and later the nationalist sentimentality of the Bengal School. 

Members of Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group - 

F.N. Souza is credited with the idea of forming this group. However, the Progressive Artists’ Group of Bombay was founded by the prolific M.F. Hussain, S.H. Raza, F.N. Souza and the lesser-known S. Bakre and K.H. Ara. Others associated with this group, who came in and left at different stages included Akbar Padamsee, Ram Kumar, VS Gaitonde, Krishen Khanna and Tyeb Mehta.  

Art Style opted by Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group - 

Comprising of six artists, the Bombay Progressive Artists Group or PAG - F. N. Souza, S. H. Raza, M. F. Husain, K. H. Ara, H. A. Gade, and S. K. Bakre had defined Modernism in India in many ways. Western influences backed by movements like Cubism, Post-Expressionism, and Expressionism, had contributed a lot towards fresher exploration of subjects.  

Even though the artists took inspiration from Western art practices, they created a novel vocabulary by assimilating those with Indian themes and techniques. They attempted an awakening for an Indian avant-garde art, one that is cosmopolitan and employs a global syncretism.  

The founding members of the Bombay Progressive Artists Group used ‘the partition” as the trigger and referenced it to set their new style of art. They followed the policy of painting with absolute freedom for both content and technique, which was almost anarchic.  The painting rules of Bombay Progressive Artists Group were governed by one or two sound elemental and eternal laws of aesthetic order, color composition and plastic co-ordination.  

Undoubtedly, European Modernism had the most distinctive influence upon the group, however its members worked in dramatically different styles, right from the Expressionism of Souza to the pure abstraction of Gaitonde. Specific Indian landscapes and imagery were also adopted, particularly by Mehta and Husain. Despite incorporating and mixing new abstract styles with traditional India art elements, PAG is still regarded as a movement which had the most influence on the contemporary Indian Art Scene. Testimony to the worldwide appeal of the group is the record setting sale of F.N. Souza’s painting “Birth” for a hammer price of beyond US$ 4 Mil. 

The last bastion of the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group - 

With the demise of S.H. Raza, this group lasted only till 1956. The last bastion of the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group, had reached the end of an era which was marked by rebellion, aggression, faith, hopelessness and pure ambition.  


1. When was Bombay Progressive Artists' Group originated? 

- Bombay Progressive Artists' Group originated the same year when India had got its independence in 1947. 

2. How many members had formed Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group? 

- Around six members had formed the Bombay Progressive Artists Group or PAG - F. N. Souza, S. H. Raza, M. F. Hussain, K. H. Ara, H. A. Gade, and S. K. Bakre 

3. From whom were the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group inspired? 

Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group was inspired by Western Art practices. 

4.  Till which year, had the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group lasted? 

- The Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group had lasted only till 1956.