Husain loved shoes, says close friend Laxma Gaud
New Delhi: A goatherd tending to his goats outside a tin hut on the green Himalayan slopes, with the silhouette of a young woman in the background - the painting by leading Indian artist Laxma Gaud was a tribute to his mentor and long-time friend Maqbool Fida Husain.
Gaud, 71, a close associate of Husain for the last 40 years, also reveals that the artist, who often insisted on walking around barefoot, had several pairs of shoes - just like his fleet of cars.
On Friday, Gaud took to the canvas at an art camp in Nainital in a symbolic recall of his lively friendship with the artist who died in London a day earlier following a heart attack.
"I put a blissful expression on the face of the goatherd to capture the spirit of Husain and my own self as artists. Like Husain, I drew a scene out of the immediate splendour of nature surrounding me at the camp in the Himalayas. Husain often sketched on the spur of the moment," Gaud told IANS from the camp via e-mail.
The five-day camp, Aarambh, is an initiative of Rasa Foundation, a non-profit arts and culture platform in the capital. It ended Friday.
Gaud inscribed the canvas with a two-line tribute to Husain, "I recall the energy you have, any speed of the canvas, no fear or limit is with you - Maqbool Fida Husain."
"What I recollected in my tribute was Husain`s oft repeated refrain that an artist can take his canvas to the sky. He would roll out his canvas and it would pulsate with energy. I was his son and he was my mentor in many ways," said Gaud, who is known for his powerful etchings, line drawing and sketches.
The artist who works out of Hyderabad lives behind the Cinema Ghar that Husain had set up in Hyderabad to relive his love for movies and arts.
"He did not sever ties with Hyderabad till he went into exile. Every time he would visit Hyderabad, Husain would draw a goat on a chit of paper with a message, `come, come` and sent it to me. I hurried to meet him," Gaud said.
Husain left India in 2006 after he earned the ire of the right wing Hindu activists for his "Bharat Mata" paintings and his bold depiction of Hindu gods and goddesses as icons of blooming womanhood. He died at the age of 95.
Walking down memory lane, Gaud said, "I met Husain for the first time in the 1950s at the house of a collector and arts promoter, Badribishal Pitti".
"Husain had a small studio at Pitti`s home, where he often worked. I was a student at the Hyderabad College of Art and Architecture," Gaud said.
The friendship blossomed. "I learnt from Husain to earn money and spend on shopping for clothes in London. The artist loved clothes. Husain had several pairs of shoes - like his fleet of cars - some of which he did not wear," he said.
The artist said the last time he met Husain was a couple of years ago when a Jaipur-based art and culture activist Ashok Agrawal sponsored a group of artists to Dubai to meet Husain.
"For three days, he was constantly with us and showed us around an exhibition of his early works which were returned to him (Husain) as a gift by a collector. He was like a child gushing about his paintings," Gaud recalled.
Gaud, whose works bear shades of Husain, has exhibited in all major institutions and galleries the world over.