Vice President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were among a host of leaders who on Thursday condoled the death of artist M F Husain, describing him as a "legend" whose passing away is a "national loss".
In his condolence message, Ansari said Husain was a keen observer of national evolution which was reflected in his art.
"I am deeply grieved to learn about the sad demise of Maqbool Fida Husain, a legend of art of our times. To most Indians, he came to represent modern Indian art. Besides his enormous achievements in painting and other art forms, Husain was a keen observer of our national evolution which was reflected in his art," he said.
Ansari noted that Husain captured public imagination with his portrayal of important personalities and events and his death is an immense loss to the nation and to the artistic community. "He will always be remembered for his love of India that was reflected in his paintings," he said.
Singh condoled the death of the 95-year-old painter, terming it as a "national loss" while Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar said Husain's death has created a "vacuum in the creative world".
Describing Husain as an "eminent and respected" personality, information and broadcasting minister Ambika Soni said his artworks have been displayed with great interest for public viewing.
"He was invited to India ...I do not remember on how many occasions. It's very unfortunate that narrow minded people look at art and creativity with same perspective, but the majority of Indian people have never supported their views," Soni said when asked about protests against him by right-wing activists.
Soni said it was true that Husain got displeased at many instances and he did express his displeasure, but the government and many NGos tried to reason out with him.
"As far as change in citizenship is concerned, I myself listened to one of his interviews where he cited work and lifestyle as reasons for changing citizenship. I don't think he stopped loving his country," she said.
Corporate affairs minister Murli Deora said, "Husain was a great artist who was known to me for the last 35 years. He was a noble soul... a very humble person at heart."
Deora, whose official residence here is adorned with several paintings of the celebrated artist, said, "He was a brilliant painter who revolutionised modern art".
CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury described Husain as one of India's foremost artists and creative personalities who contributed to art to take forward the syncretic civilisation that India is.
"It is tragic that during his last years, he was forced to live outside India because of relentless campaign against him by the communalists. We convey heartfelt condolences to his son and painter Shamshad and other relatives," he said.
Maintaining that Husain "slipped" while drawing paintings of Hindu deities, Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray on Thursday said, "Damage may have been caused to modern art due to his demise."
"Damage may have been caused to modern art due to his demise. Thats all. May Allah give him peace," he said.
"As an artist, everyone has a domain and Husain handled his modern art with zeal. However, he 'slipped' while drawing paintings of Hindu gods and goddesses," Thackeray said.