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Why Husain was great and controversial

Painter, filmmaker MF Husain, the man who put India on the world map with his art, is no more. Here's a lowdown on the artist's life, art, controversies and muses. Do you feel there a vaccuum in the art world after his demise?

entertainment Updated: Jun 09, 2011 19:10 IST
Amrah Ashraf
Amrah Ashraf
Hindustan Times

This may mark the end of an era. An era which was defined by the greatness of intellect and exquisite artistic abilities, Maqbool Fida Husain is no more. He passed away in the early hours of the day.

A self-taught artist, Husain who was born in 1915 lived a life of many adventures and misdemeanours. The stupor of persona merged with controversial brush strokes, MF Husain is what the art world called the Picasso of India. Yet tragically, India’s greatest painter died in an alien land. Husain who went into voluntary exile in 2006 never really got the chance to breathe his last in the country where he earned his first penny from painting a Bollywood hoarding.

Art Work
Revered as the Picasso of India, Husain’s romance with art did not start in a romantic way. An often told story, he used to paint film posters and hoardings to earn some money. Though every time he managed to save some dough, the young painter used to paint landscapes. And thus, began one of the greatest artistic voyages of all time.

Husain’s art work may be categorised as Modern Progressive and Contemporary. He joined the Progressive Artists' Group in 1947. Also known as the pioneer of Indian avant garde, he is known as the Picasso of India. In 1952, his first solo exhibition was held at Zürich and over the next few years, his work gained prominence in Europe and the US. The painter was honoured with the prestigious Padma Shree award by the Government of India.

He is famously known for his Shwetambari exhibition at the Jehangir Art Gallery in Mumbai which consisted of two halls masked with barren white cloth, coils of which embraced the floor with torn newspapers.

Art is never chaste. It ought to be forbidden to ignorant innocents, never allowed into contact with those not sufficiently prepared. Yes, art is dangerous. Where it is chaste, it is not art - Pablo Picasso

Always under the controversial light, MF Husain first came under the scanner after his first alleged anti-Hindu artwork published in 1996. The artwork, which depicted Hindu deities in the nude, was painted in the 70s. After it was published, the debate over Free expression versus Hurting Hindu sentiments; forced the fanatics to threaten his life.

Yet again, in 2006 he was charged with hurting sentiments of people because of his controversial painting Bharatmata and Husain went in to exile.

After numerous incidents of his paintings being taken down from exhibitions, MF Husain was left with no choice but to leave the country. Later, he was honoured with Qatar citizenship.

In the following year he made his first film, Through the Eyes of a Painter. It was shown at the Berlin Festival and won a Golden Bear. He later made a Bollywood film called Gaja Gamini in 2000 with his muse Madhuri Dixit. His last film was Meenaxi- Tale of Two Cities.

Husain’s list of muses is endless. The painter saw beauty in the leading ladies of Bollywood. His most famous muse has to be Madhuri Dixit. Interestingly, his latest muse is Mamata Banerjee.

List of Muses: Anushka Sharma, Amrita Rao, Vidya Balan, Madhuri Dixit, Tabu, Mumtaz and Smita Patil.

Do you feel there a vaccuum in the art world after his demise? Comment.

First Published: Jun 09, 2011 12:29 IST

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