Agra businessman to immortalise Husain in museum

Last Updated: Jun 13, 2011, 18:55 PM IST

Agra: The Taj city will host a museum of Maqbool Fida Husain`s art works and mementoes related to him, thanks to a Mumbai-based business tycoon who hails from this city.

"Husain had wanted to paint the Taj Mahal live but could not fulfil his dream," Guru Swaroop Srivastav, who is an exporter of various products including handicafts, told IANS on phone from Mumbai. To immortalise his passion for paintings, he has decided to establish the Maqbool Swaroop Kala Museum here.

An ex-IITian, Guru Swaroop had been in close touch with Husain for the past 10 years. Husain, arguably India`s most well known painter, died in exile in London on June 9 at the age of 95.

"Husain had given me the design of the museum some years ago and I had moved the state and central governments, but there was no appreciable headway. But now I want to do it on my own, as a private initiative. For the city of the Taj Mahal, it will be a great milestone and another feather in its cap," Guru Swaroop told IANS.

"You know the Taj Mahal design was first conceptualised in parts as paintings which were shown to the emperor and after his approval the execution was done. It was a great place of arts in the medieval age. The Husain Museum will give a big boost to revival of arts in the city," Guru Swaroop said.

In 2004, he entered into a contract for 100 paintings with Husain for Rs.100 crore. He secured 25 paintings and 400 silk prints with his signature.

The 100 paintings were for his "Our Planet Called Earth" project. It was about a series of paintings to be painted by Husain on the theme of earth. But now that Husain is no more, this project is left incomplete - the legendary artist died in London June 9.

Guru Swaroop plans to auction some of the paintings to mobilise resources for the museum.

Efforts are on to bring some mementoes or articles associated with Husain or his remains to Agra and to open the museum soon, said Manish Agarwal, president of the National Chamber of Industries and Commerce, Agra chapter.

Guru Swaroop had gifted two silk paintings of Husain to Agra mayor Anjula Singh Mahaur after she returned from Lisbon with the `Wonder of the World` trophy for the Taj Mahal, in 2007.

The mayor has so far not accepted the demand from various organisations to display the paintings in the Taj Municipal Museum at Paliwal Park.

For the moment, Agarwal is campaigning for the return of the two paintings of Husain, (silk prints autographed) in the possession of the mayor, to the Municipal Corporation.

The mayor says these were presented to her in her personal capacity by Guru Swaroop while the latter says he presented them to the institution of the mayor and not to any individual.

Guru Swaroop told IANS: "In the whole universe the earth is the best planet, and on earth, India is the best, and in India the most important city in terms of architecture and arts is Agra. Therefore the Husain museum has to be in Agra."

IANS