Posts Tagged ‘artist’

The telling legacy of MF Husain

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

 

I’m delighted that the V&A in London will be hosting a new show of MF Husain’s work this Summer.

I photographed Husain many years ago in his Bombay studio (I’ve previously written about him here and here) and he was as charming as he was prolific. How awful then that his work, a mixture of European Modernism and Indian imagery, is unlikely to be seen again anytime soon in his home country. He had to flee India in 2006 as Hindu militants put a bounty on his head, charging him with “offending religious sentiment”. The London show is, in a sense, a farewell to Husain but perhaps moreover, potentially to the ideas to which his art spoke: of a secular, tolerant India. As India rushes headlong into the clutches of corporations and those that seek to divide it’s people against one another (rigidly defining those who are and who aren’t an ‘acceptable’ Indian), it ironically may take the legacy of an elderly millionaire painter to act as a metaphor for the freedoms that ordinary Indians – indeed perhaps the idea of India itself – are in danger of losing.

 

India - Mumbai - MF Husain (b. 1915, Maharashtra) India's foremost modernist painter at his studio in Mumbai (formerly Bombay). In the 1990s some of Husain's works became controversial because of their portrayal of naked Hindu deities. Charges were brought against him by Hindu Nationalists but were dismissed by the Delhi High Court. Husain dies in exile where his painting continued to command prices of several million dollars at auction.

India – Mumbai – MF Husain (b. 1915, Maharashtra) India’s foremost modernist painter at his studio in Mumbai (formerly Bombay). In the 1990s some of Husain’s works became controversial because of their portrayal of naked Hindu deities. Charges were brought against him by Hindu Nationalists but were dismissed by the Delhi High Court. Husain died in exile but his painting continue to command prices of several million dollars at auction.

M F Husain

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

It’s with great sadness that I heard this morning that the rather wonderful Indian artist MF Husain passed away during the night. I wrote about him last year as he’d taken Qatari citizenship but continued to keep a house in London. Doubtless those shrill self-appointed, hateful voices from the Hindu religious right will be celebrating his demise – and how brave they were from keeping a old man from dying in his own country. I remember him as a courteous and thoughtful subject, delightfully playful during the evening I spent with him in apartment in Mumbai a decade ago. A charming man and an astonishing talent.

 

India - Mumbai - MF Husain, India's greatest modernist painter at his studio in Bombay. Before him is a picture of his muse Maduri Dixit, a film actress

 

Intolerance

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

It appears that the great Indian artist, MF Husain has accepted citizenship from Qatar after having to live in exile in London and Dubai since 2006. It may well close one of the saddest episodes in secular India: Husain, now 95, has been the target of Hindu fundamentalists after his depiction of naked Hindu goddesses. The Indian government has been unable to protect either his property or his personal safety and so one of India’s most famous sons is now unlikely ever to return to his home. I photographed him in Mumbai (then Bombay) about a dozen years ago for the Independent on Sunday Magazine. He was as charming as he was extraordinarily talented.

India - Mumbai - MF Husain

India - Mumbai - MF Husain with an image of his muse, Maduri Dixit


India - Mumbai - MF Husain with an image of his muse, Maduri Dixit