Born into a tailor’s family in Bombay, A. A. Raiba received a scholarship to study at Sir J. J. School of Art. In 1956, he won a gold medal from Bombay Art Society and an award from Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi, in 1962. Belonging to a mixed ancestry of Hindu, Maratha and Islamic lineage, Raiba was a modern artist seeking a secular space in his art that would allow these diverse influences to be assimilated into a personal language.
Contrary to his training in miniatures, Raiba’s work is characterised by bold shapes and strong outlines. Yet, the miniature influence persists in the two-dimensional arrangement and use of colours, as well as in his compositions drawn from Travancore-Cochin folk art. An eclectic artist, he was also influenced by a four-year stay in Kashmir and the romanticism of the Kangra miniature school. His personal interpretation of them resulted in a style that was far from derivative. Iconographically, Christian imagery populates his works, as do the landscapes of India’s coastal southwest.
In 1956, he was commissioned to do a large mural on the life of Buddha for the Ashok Hotel, New Delhi and executed a mural for Air India in 1970. He is known for two ambitious projects: an exhibition of paintings to commemorate poet Ghalib’s centenary in 1969, and a series in response to 18th century Bombay’s islands based on colonial records.