Friday, May 8, 2009

"The Picasso of India": MF Husain

One can love MF Husain, one can hate MF Husain, but one can't ignore MF Husain. 

The Early Years: Maqbool Fida Husain was born on September 17,1915 in Pandharpur, MP. His mother died when he was barely 2 years old. Husain moved to Mumbai when he was 20 to attend the J.J School of Arts. He earned money by doing various odd jobs such as painting cinema boards and working at a toy factory. In his own words: "We were paid barely four or six annas per square foot. That is, for a 6x10 feet canvas, we earned a few rupees. And apart from the New Theatre distributor, the others did not pay us at all. As soon as I earned a little bit I used to take off for Surat, Baroda and Ahmedabad to paint landscapes." 

Husain's first painting- "Sunhera Sansaar", was was shown at the 1947 annual exhibition of the Bombay Art Society. Soon the Progressive Artists Group was formed, and through this, Husain was greatly influenced by Emil Nolde and Oskar Kokoschka. From 1948 to 1950 a series of exhibitions all over India brought Husain's work to the public's attention. 

1950s-1970s: Husain started travelling to China, USA, and Europe for his art to be recognized on an international scaled. Also, in 1966 Husain was awarded the Padmashree by the Government of India. This is also when he made his first film- "Through the eyes of a Painter". He was also invited along with Pablo Picasso to the Sao Paulo Biennal. 

1980s: During this time, Husain slowly grew into a more public figure through his numerous controversies. One event that received alot of media attention was his Shwetambari exhibition at the Jehangir Art Gallery. The exhibition consisted of 2 halls shrouded in white cloth and torn newspaper. He also gave a public performance in the Tata Center in Calcutta where he painted a picture of 6 goddesses. On the last day he destroyed his paintings by painting over them in white. 

1990s: Husain's collections started becoming more accessible to the public. 

His Style: The medium of work of MF Husain's paintings differs from oil to watercolor as he loves experimenting. The subjects of Husain's paintings greatly differ, but he inspired by certain topics in particular. Greatly inspired by the Indian epic- The Mahabharata- Husain freqently returns to the drama of the conflicts and characters as inspiration for his paintings. He is also often drawn towards painting depictions of horses and Ganesh. He also turns towards paintings of mothers, and icons such as Mother Teresa. 

Husain's creativity, style, and innovation have made him one of the most celebrated Indian artists today. He was truly an entrepreneur in Contemporary Indian art by also bringing Indian art to an international level. MF Husain has also had his fair share of controversies such as being charged for painting nude portraits of Hindu gods and goddesses even though he is a Muslim. 

Title: Naad Swaram Ganeshayem

Title: Naples Stallion
Materials: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 24x36

Title: Autobiography
Year: 1996
Materials: Oil on Canvas
Size: 42x72 inches

Source: Cyber Art Museum

Figure: Hanuman

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