M F Husain

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



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