New Delhi: Leading Indian contemporary artist MF Husain`s art will be the highlight of the 20/21 International Art Fair in London Feb 17-20.
A six-foot abstract composition by Husain, known as the 'Picasso of India', depicting human figures cavorting in a woodland, richly textured and intricately executed, will be on sale at the fair.
The work painted by the artist during the 1970s, when his works were much sought for their complex and colourful texture, is priced 180,000 pounds while a smaller canvas is estimated at 120,000 pounds.
The artworks have been donated by Tanya Baxter of the King`s Road Gallery, a statement issued by the fair, said Wednesday.
A fair`s spokesperson said the 'Husain canvases' were attracting attention from buyers and generating interest among the 'emerging generations of contemporary artists for its rich textures'.
The response to the exhibits is 'crucial to the morale of the 95-year-old artist', three of whose large canvases were removed from Indian Art Summit 2011 following security threats, a source close to Husain told reporters.
Husain, now a citizen of Doha, left India in 2006 on a self-imposed exile after right wing Hindu extremists moved court against him for 'depicting Hindu gods and goddesses' in 'an objectionable manner'. One of his compositions, Bharat Mata (Mother India), in which he depicted India has a 'nude women' also courted controversy and allegedly 'hurt sentiments of the Hindus'.
Husain, a part of the Mumbai Progressive Group of artists in 1947, celebrated his 95th birthday in Doha by creating giant Murano glass horses, which were displayed on the streets along with the artist`s personal fleet of fast cars.
The art fair will officially open Thursday at the Royal College of Art at Kensington Gore in London. It will be inaugurated by Simon Jenkins.
Other artists exhibiting at the fair include Pawel Pyrz, Anthony Green, Kasia Kamita, Anthony Murphy, Jean Marchard, Peter Blake, Rob Ryan, Maria Rivans, Jim Dine, Roger Hilton, Romyn and Emiko Aida.
In its fifth year, the fair has drawn 60 exhibitors mostly from Britain who have offered contemporary art from countries as diverse India, China, Japan and Russia. The prices range from a few hundred pounds to 100,000 pounds.
Another artwork of exceptional significance is a sketch by Pablo Picasso of a street in Madrid drawn by the artist when he lived in the city at the age of 20. Depicting pimps and prostitutes, it was originally part of Picasso`s "Carnet 96" sketchbook and is on sale for 65,000 pounds.
Ninety-eight year old Japanese artist Toko Shinoda, who began as a calligrapher at the age of six, is now regarded as one of Japan`s greatest living painters. She is represented by London`s Hanga Ten Gallery and her series of abstract lithographs are priced 3,000 pounds.
The range of art to be exhibited at the fair includes oil compositions, original prints, water colours, drawings, collage photography and sculptures covering a period of 110 years from 1900 to 2010.
The fair is organised by Hay Hutson and Angela Wynn. Hutson said judging from the number of visitors reported at the recent London fairs, "interest in art is on the rise".
In an uncertain economic climate with low interest rates, many investors are pumping money in art because it "brings them aesthetic satisfaction everyday besides the investment value of art", the organisers said.
"People may not be moving house but there is always room for another well-priced picture," Hutson said. Recent researches have shown that society in the UK is now more cosmopolitan than ever, he said.
"Each year it gets better and better - both dealers and visitors really like the variety of art on offer, the accessible price range, the manageable size and, most importantly, the friendly atmosphere," Hutson said.