Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray on Thursday paid tribute to MF Husain, calling him a “national asset” and said his body should be flown back to India for the last rites.
At a press conference, Raj said controversies surrounding Husain should be buried now. “Whenever you talk of art, two names come to mind — Picasso and Husain. And I would always prefer Husain,” Raj said.
He said the Pandharpur-born Husain played a vital role in propagating art across the world. “His body should be buried at Pandharpur,” Raj said.
In contrast, Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, Raj’s uncle, described Husain’s death as a loss only to modern art. The Sena chief said that the artist’s downslide began after he started painting Hindu goddesses in the nude.
Thackeray Senior, an acclaimed cartoonist, said he did not appreciate modern art and quoted Picasso, who called it a medium to fool people. “Husain was whimsical and stubborn. He did not change his views and, hence, had to leave the country,” said Thackeray Senior.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said in a statement: “Husain was an institution. The painter, who was born in a small place like Pandharpur, made it big in the world through his fine work. He did not follow any specific rules, and always did it his way.”
Unique ‘get well soon’ wish
At Thursday’s press meet, Raj Thackeray exhibited a sketch of a horse made by Husain that had Raj’s name on it. Husain made the sketch when he visited Raj’s first exhibition of cartoons.
Raj recalled an encounter with Husain, in 1996, at Hinduja Hospital, where Raj’s uncle Bal Thackeray had bypass surgery. While waiting, Husain drew a sketch of Lord Ganesha, wrote ‘get well soon’ and gifted it to Thackeray Senior.