Maqbool Fida Husain, one of the most celebrated artists of Indian origin, is no more.
A self taught artist, who started modestly as a painter of cinema hoardings, went on to become one of the most respected names in Indian art scene. Husain, whose avant-garde portrayals earned him accolades, also got brick-bats from people, who branded him anti-Hindu for his depiction of Hindu deities and Mother India in nude.
Despite having apologized, he was not forgiven. Apparently, sick and tired of being constantly persecuted by hardline Hindu outfits, Husain went on a self imposed exile from January 2006 to Dubai and then finally embraced the citizenship of Qatar in 2010.
Even in his exile, Husain expressed a strong desire to return to his homeland, a wish that remained unfulfilled.
It is often said that artists and gods are obscure; why then chastise an artist and scrutinize his vision through the lens of nationalism. Okay, you might go ahead
and quote the number of his paintings about nude gods and goddesses. If we take pride in calling ourselves a Hindu nation, what about the scores of nude statuettes in Ajanta and Ellora which we call great work of art? Aren’t we a nation that worships even the genitals of the god? Aren’t we who gave the world Kama Sutra?
I believe that true art is beyond religion, cast, creed and to impose one’s personal views on it is not a correct thing to do. After all, all art is mimetic and represents its surroundings.
Neither do I personally know MF Husain nor do I claim to be a great art critic, but I see Husain as the victim of circumstances. A true independent spirit, who never bowed down to public pressure, MF Husain was a great mind, who continued to serve art till his last breath. His acute understanding of human situation was greatly reflected in his swift, vigorous brush strokes, which spoke for themselves. His paintings were poetry which could be felt rather than read.
To say that Husain was anti-national and unpatriotic is not only a great disrespect to the deceased artist, but also a huge disregard to the free artistic spirit.
What’s even more saddening is the fact that Indian government did nothing to bring back the exiled artist, who breathed his last in a foreign land.
Is this the price one has to pay for being an artist in today’s times?
RIP MF Husain
(The views expressed by the author are personal)