New Delhi: Art lovers today heaved a sigh of relief when works of M F Husain, taken off from the ongoing Indian Art Summit following threats from some right-wing groups, were restored after police assured the organisers that there were no security concerns.
Three large canvas paintings by 93-year-old Husain, living in exile for the past five years, were removed from display at the event which was opened for public today.
"We received several threatening emails and phone calls from various groups from Mumbai and Pune. We have had a lot of protection from the police and have our own security but organisers feel that there could be a stampede and incidents of vandalism when the fair opens for the public and so decided to remove the works of Husain," Delhi Art Gallery director Ashish Anand said.
Later, the organisers said that they have received a formal statement confirming that the Ministry of Culture and Delhi Police take complete security responsibility for the art fair.
"They have assured us that they will take all necessary measures to ensure that the art fair is completely safe for the showcase of all artists," the organisers said in a statement.
"The Husain works are back on the wall. They will be on for the rest of the Summit. We have no concerns about the security, we have enough security," Anand said after the restoration.
"We heard that the gallery had some problems. We spoke to the Police Commissioner and he said that he has sufficient security in place. We then told the organisers that they put the works back," Secretary in the Ministry of Culture Jawahar Sircar said.
Saffron groups have in the past protested against Husain's alleged blasphemy of Hindu deities.
The Delhi Art Gallery had recently relaunched its flagship space in the city with a show "Continuum" and a book launch on the Progressive Artists group.
"The show was extended to the Art Summit and since Husain is part of the six artists of the Progressive Art group, we had displayed works by all the six artists at our space in the Summit too," said a spokesperson of the Gallery.
The first edition of the India Art Summit in 2008 had stirred up a controversy when it did not display works by Husain following threats from right-wing Hindu groups.
The situation was the same in 2009, the second edition of the Summit when organisers expressed their inability to offer protection to works of the artist deterring exhibiting galleries.
The Delhi Art Gallery had for the preview yesterday displayed three canvases and a water colour on Ganesha by Husain. One of the canvas "Krishna" featured a self portrait of the artist and his trademark horses.