Monday, June 13, 2011

Maqbool Fida Husaain;The Indian myth and reality

M F Hussain
Some text from various source-

Legendary Indian painter Maqbool Fida Husain, popularly known as 'Picasso of India' who earned both fame and wrath for his paintings, died in hospital at London following over a month-long illness. He was 95.

Dubbed the "Picasso of India", Husain's work was a blend of cubism and classical Indian styles that helped put modern Indian art on the global arena. His canvasses sold for millions of dollars.
Husain lived in Dubai and London after being forced to leave India in 2006. He left in the face of a vicious campaign of harassment and intimidation, including death threats, by Hindu fundamentalist, citing his artistic depiction of Hindu deities. His exhibitions were vandalised. A number of legal cases based on the charge of hurting religious sentiments were slapped on him. When he could not respond to a summons from a district court in Haridwar, his immovable properties in India were attached. An arrest warrant was also issued.
Mother Teresa


Last year, the Qatar govt offered h nationality. Faced with the threat of arresting and further harassment if he returned to India, Husain accepted it but insisted that India would always remain his home, regardless where he lived physical. 

There has been widespread criticism that the Indian governments failed to protect his right to artistic freedom.  
“It is an indictment of those in power in India that the country's greatest artist died in exile. It is like Picasso dying in exile. For all their claim to secularism, it is a shame that they couldn't defend him against a mob of   right-wing fanatics,

 The fakkad and beparvah artist having long hairs and flowing white beard on his face,whose refusal to wear footwear became his signature trademark, was credited with putting Indian art on the world map. His  fascinating and impressive paintings fetched millions of dollars in the international market. Only recently one of his paintings fetched Rs 2.32 crore at an auction at Bonham's in London. 

Born in Pandharpur (Maharashtra) on September 17, 1915, Husaain lost his mother when he was one and a half. His father remarried and moved to Indore, where he went to school. In 1935, he moved to what was then Bombay and joined the Sir J.J. School of Art. As a young, struggling artist he painted cinema hoardings. He later came to the limelight in the 1940s. He joined the Progressive Artists' Group led by F.N. Souza.It is a
Progressive Artist group where the artists tried to go awayfrom the old Indian tradition of painting.

Birth of buddha
Birth of Budha
Husain made his international debut in 1952 with a solo exhibition at Zurich and soon established a worldwide reputation. He soon became one of India's highest-paid painters. Owning a work of his became a mark of social status. The first state recognition came in 1955 when he was awarded the Padma Shri. In 1973, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan, and in 1991 the Padma Vibhushan. He was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 1986

Painting by M F HusainReputed for his free and creative spirit and sense of adventure, Husain experimented with cinema. He made his first film, Through the Eyes of a Painter, in 1967: it won a Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. He made two Hindi films, Gaja Gamini, with Madhuri Dixit who he described as his muse; and Meenaxi: A Tale of Three Cities. He also did a series of paintings inspired by the Bollywood actor, signing off as ‘Fida,' an Urdu word for ‘devoted.'
   Decades later, his paintings and even his simple pencil drawings became status symbols for India's wealthy elite, with his works commanding price tags running into millions of dollars. 

By coincidence, two of MF’s paintings were included that day for an auction, which had long been planned.
 Driven by right-wing political activists and vandals into exile, M.F. Husain had to face criminal complaints of obscenity in various Indian courts for his nude paintings of goddesses before the Supreme Court came to his rescue, holding that his paintings were nothing but art
The Supreme Court threw out an appeal against a May 8, 2008 Delhi High Court order that quashed criminal proceedings against Husain in the courts of Bhopal, Indore and Rajkot while deploring the “new puritanism” that had emerged in India. The court rejected the argument that Husain should be summoned (from his exile) before the court with his paintings and asked to explain their meaning. Complaints were also filed in Pandharpur in Maharashtra, Delhi and Hardwar. 
The Supreme Court refused to allow his prosecution on the charges of obscenity, noting how erotic sculptures abounded on the walls of Hindu temples.
The court had some harsh words for the complainants: “There are so many such subjects, photographs and publications. Will you file cases against all of them? What about temple structures? Husain's work is art. If you don't want to see it, don't see it. There are so many such art forms in temple structures  
The complainants in general had accused Husain of outraging religious sentiments, promoting enmity between different religious groups, selling obscene material and disturbing national integrity, thereby committing offences under several sections of the Indian Penal Code. He was also accused of committing offences under the provisions of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act on account of certain paintings of Hindu deities and mythological characters done in the 1970s and 1980s, as well as the painting of ‘Bharat Mata' depicted as a stylised, nude woman  

  What pained the artist more was the refusal of the complainants to accept his apology. In his petition in the Supreme Court, Husain said he had tendered an apology, but despite that, the ‘Hindu Personal Law Board' had announced a Rs. 51-crore reward for beheading him and a reward of Rs. 11 lakh for chopping off his hands. A local leader in Gujarat promised to give one kg of gold to anyone who would gouge out his eyes

Husain's main plea in all the cases was that his works were not intended to hurt the sentiments of any community or nation. He also argued that most of the complaints were preceded by orchestrated campaigns against him. He drew the Supreme Court's attention to the fact that when the controversy first broke out, he immediately withdrew the painting from a charity auction and apologised in case he had hurt the sentiments of anybody
Earlier, the Delhi High Court had said the allegation that Husain's paintings were obscene were baseless. It took the view that a painter has his own perspective of looking at things and a difference in perspective could not be the basis of initiating criminal proceedings against him.
It said: “In India, a new puritanism is being carried out in the name of cultural purity and a host of ignorant people are vandalising art and pushing us towards a pre-renaissance era. A painter at 90 deserves to be sitting in his home and painting his canvas. Frivolous and vexatious complaints that affect the freedom of an individual should be scrutinised strictly at the magisterial level.

With the death of Husain, a few remaining complaints pending adjudication in lower courts will come to an end
 President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh led the nation in paying tributes to artist M.F. Husain on Thursday, even as several political leaders regretted the fact that such a famous son of India had died “in exile” because of some “narrow-minded” people. 
Condoling his death, the President said he was a world renowned artist whose extraordinary style made him a celebrity in the arena of contemporary art. “A man of multi-dimensional talent, his death would create a deep void in the world of art and creativity,” she said. “He also brought glory to the house as a Parliamentarian.” Husain had been nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 1986.

Noting that Husain had dominated the Indian art firmament for almost 70 years, the Prime Minister said that the nation had lost an iconic artist and the art world one of its most colourful personalities. “He made an immense contribution to popularising Indian art both within the country and abroad. He captivated art lovers with his deep appreciation of the human condition and his bold and imaginative strokes,” he said.

Calling Husain a “legend of art of our times,” Vice President Hamid Ansari was “a keen observer of our national evolution” who captured the public imagination with his portrayal of important personalities and events. “To most Indians, he came to represent modern Indian art,” said the Vice President
Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar said that while his death would “leave a vacuum in the world of art,” his creative legacy would continue to inspire future artists.

Culture Minister Kumari Selja lauded his role as an ambassador for Indian art. “As a true citizen of the world and as a restless creative soul and an eternal traveller, M.F. Husain was among the pioneers who spread the message of India's art across the globe,” she said.

She was echoed by Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan. “No one could have stopped him from coming back to the country and he was staying abroad for his work. He had moved beyond his physicality,” she said in response to questions from journalists. “It was not the government that was an obstacle to his coming home, but communal forces like the Shiv Sena and Bajrang Dal.
 Regretting the “relentless campaign of vilification and calumny against him by bigoted Hindu fundamentalist groups since 1996,” the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust urged that a proper monument be created to honour Husain for posterity.

However, groups such as the Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, which had fiercely protested Husain's paintings of nude Hindu goddesses made mellowed statements, saying that the controversies should be laid to rest with his death.
The Bharatiya Janata Party did not issue any statement on Husain's passing, and when asked for a response by journalists, general secretary Anant Kumar made the terse comment that “we condole his death
The Government of India has said it is ready to extend all help for the burial of Husain in India in case his family wanted to do so. “The government has offered all facilitation to the family of M.F. Husain in case they want to bury him in India,” sources in the Prime Minister's Office said.
Most people who make derogetery comments against him neither know much about his body of work nor about art in general, and in fact little about religion. His body of work is immense. Even before gaining fame as an artist, MF Hussain did a series on the Ramayana with thousands of canvases on the subject. His understanding of hinduism is vast. His works on the Mahabharata are thought provoking and beautiful. He has knowledge of the scriptures. Other than that his work includes many other styles and he has painted in western and islamic styles also.
Holi-Painting by MF Hussain

In the world of art, nudity is considered a strong statement- it is a powerful expression that can convey a spctrum of things at once, and has never been considered "evil". Hussain is being persecuted for something that is common place in the world of art.

Art is meant to spark questions in the mind of those willing to accept the fluidity of reality

Nudity is neither uncommon nor looked down upon in Hinduism too.

 There is a sort of reactionary fundamentalism that is becoming acceptable among the Hindus propogated by policial parties that is very disturbing. An artist of Hussain's calibre is forced to live in exile outside his country, and that is very sad.

 People, not base their verdicts on merely what is fed to them, but take time to find out the truth for themselves before submitting to such hatred.

Hussain is not only a painter, he is also a poet, a calligraher, a photographer, an author and a film-maker.

 Hope we will realise his worth soon and not squander away our national treasure for something as terrible as hatred.

 To evolve we need to, if not understand but atleast acknowledge M F Hussian. Anyway no relgion can be tainted by anybody but by our minds.  

In  our India, women has been always depicting in the nude.Most of our beautiful temples have got sculptures of naked women and sexual acts too  All those opposed to his paintings have no clue about art.
British raj
British Raj
If you think Hussain's exile is the right way to go about it - you’re part of the close-minded fools who've destroyed a beautiful country's rich culture, just because they feel too ashamed to tell their young ones where babies come from.

If any other there think that nudity in art is grotesque and appalling, you have to destroy loads of Indian temples to prove your point.

Art is not meant to please religious or political leaders. It's independent of them. Don't be part of the gullible flock that's too lazy to figure things out for themselves. They usually turn to corrupt religious and political leaders for answers to questions that they should answer themselves. Think for yourself and stop fuelling highly corrupt and baseless religious institutions.
In April 2004, the Delhi High Court has found Hussain guilty of hurting of religious sentiments. The Honourable Justice Kapoor states,

Art work by M F Hussain "If one has been granted unlimited freedom, one is required or expected to use it for good purpose and not with malicious intention, to defame or degrade religious deities may be mythological, as these immortals are held in highest esteem and over a period become part of one's day to day religious life to such an extent that anything adverse said or printed or painted hurts the religious feelings immensely. Any objectionable, demeaning caricature or painting of religious deities or gods or goddesses of any particular religion creates disharmony and ill will amongst different communities. Even if it is presumed that such a painting is a piece of art still one cannot be oblivious of the fact that depiction of these deities or goddesses in full nudity comes within the mischief of deliberate and malicious act intended to outrage religious feelings of concerned religion as these goddesses are worshiped by crores of people. .... Under the garb of freedom of expression no person can be allowed to hurt the religious feelings of any class of people. This should be known more to the petitioner who belongs to a different religion. If the petitioner wants to gauge the depth and the unflinching nature of religious feelings he may venture and try his hand at his own or any other religion and see how sensitive religious feelings and beliefs are. Such acts promote enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and arc prejudicial to maintenance of harmony. It is the effect that is guiding and determining criteria.
The Delhi High Court has quashed the criminal proceedings against Painter M.F Husain and while doing so the Hon'ble Judges observed as follows:

" We have been called as the land of KAMA SUTRA, then why is it in this land we shy away from it's very name? Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder and so does obscenity". Justice SANJAY KISHAN KAUL observed went on to quash criminal proceedings against Husain in three cases that had been transferred to Delhi.

" a painter at 90 deserves to be in his home -paininting his canvas"" it is most unfortunate that India's new puritanism is being carried out in the name of cultural purity and ingnorant people vandalise art"

"Ancient art has never been dovoid of eroticism where sex worship and graphical representation of the union between man and woman has been a recurring feature"

 Hon'ble High Court of Delhi


"Art and artists were once patronised by kings and elite classes, the court explained from history. “Art and authority never had a difficult relationship, until recently...Our greatest problem today is fundamentalism, the triumph of the letter over the spirit.”

In an expression of approval to the quashing of the arrest warrants against the painter, Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium assured the court that he would write to the Law Commission suggesting measures to protect artists.

Self portrait
Self Portrait
Reacting to the verdict, advocate Poornima Sethi, who represented complainant A S Naruka, said: “Can the fundamental right of speech and expression of one person override the fundamental right of speech and expression of an entire community?...Why has this painter attacked the idols of one particular majority community? If his concern is art, then he should also concern himself with the figures of other communities too?”. She added that her clients would “definitely take proper legal steps” against the High Court verdict"

shivaparvati- painting by M F Hussain

who is fundamentalist and who is not? Are these utterly atrociaous paintings of MF Husain is not just dubbed as art we Hindus are self inflicting wounds on ourselves under secular fear psychosis! Nothing to blame the minority!


  1. thank you for writing such a nice article about the legend mf hussain saahb..