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Remembering the Picasso of India

Maqbool Fida Husain from Pandharpur was one of the most loved Indian artists, reckoned for his confident strokes and respected for his genius. It will not be easy to fill the void that his death has created.

mumbai Updated: Jun 09, 2011 23:48 IST
Riddhi Doshi

Maqbool Fida Husain from Pandharpur was one of the most loved Indian artists, reckoned for his confident strokes and respected for his genius. It will not be easy to fill the void that his death has created.

His close friend Munna Zaveri, while leaving for London to see his dear friend for the last time, said, "He was admitted in a London hospital a few days ago for lung complications. It is very unfortunate. I have lost my dear friend and India a great artist."

Husain's son Samshad and daughter Aqueela accompanied Munna. His son Ovais and daughter Raesa were by his side in London when he was hospitalised.

Delhi-based artist and Husain's close friend Manu Parekh admired his simplistic ways. Parekh fondly recalled the late artist's modesty and grace.

"Husain was passionate about life and I do not know of anybody who loved our motherland as much as he did. Once I met him at the Nizamuddin basti in Delhi and he informed me that he was just back from abroad and felt like visiting the basti to have malai, roti and chai. This kind of grace and ability to fit in anywhere is a rare trait," he said.

The owner of the Vadhera Art Gallery in Delhi, which houses a large collection of Husain's art works, Arun Vadhera has always marvelled at Husain's fickle-mindedness.

Vadhera said how the artist was once supposed to travel to London with him for official work and but decided to cancel his trip just a few hours before flight's departure.

When Vadhera reached Husain's residence to carry along one of his paintings, he happened to ask the maverick artist that he should reconsider his decision.

"I told Husain that he should come along with me. He asked, 'You think so?' And he accompanied me to London, but without any baggage."

Another fellow artist J Swaminathan and Husain said how they were supposed to travel to Bhopal to attend an award function. Their flight got delayed and Husain instead chose to go to Bangalore and Swaminathan went to Bhopal alone.

In spite of all his idiosyncrasies, the contemporaries and the new artists immensely respect the genius that Husain was.

Artist Reena Kallat said, "I was awestruck by his series of paintings based on Satyajit Ray's films. The depth and understanding of his subject was reflected in his art. The ease with which he blurred the boundaries between cinema, art, poetry, theatre and architecture was just marvellous."