Thursday, October 29, 2009

Can Husain return?

I am no artist and if I see a modern painting I would muster all my intelligence and try to match the name of the painting with the artist’s illustration. Most of the time I fail the test. Guess one needs imagination too. Hence personally my adulation would always be for a picture that is straightforward and which can be seen by my own eyes.

I believe an artist sees the world in many different ways and his/her illustrations may or may not strike a chord with the viewers. One may also see something entirely different from what the artist set out to illustrate.

Anyway this is not about paintings. But because of my ignorance about artists and paintings I never knew that 94 year old M F Husain has been living in exile (in Dubai) for the past few years.

Did India really sent an artist away from his country of birth for his paintings?

Wikipedia gave the following:

One of the most highly rated artists in the world today, his work sells at astonishing prices and are grabbed almost instantly by international art collectors.

According to Forbes magazine, he has been called the "Picasso of India".[1]

At the age of 92 Husain was to be given the prestigious Raja Ravi Varma award by the government of Kerala.[10]

In early 2008, Husain’s Battle of Ganga and Jamuna: Mahabharata 12, a large diptych, from the Hindu epic, fetched $1.6 million, setting a world record at Christie's South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art sale.[3]

Unfortunately the higher in stature he grew, the bigger the controversies too. Every religious / patriotic sensibility seems to have been battered by this frail old man.

In the 1990s some of Husain's works became controversial because of their portrayal of Hindu deities in the nude or in an allegedly sexual manner.[12]. The paintings in question were created in 1970, but did not become an issue until 1996, when they were printed inVichar Mimansa, a Hindi monthly magazine, which published them in an article headlined "M.F. Husain: A Painter or Butcher".

Husain's film Meenaxi: A Tale of Three Cities[26] was pulled out of movie theatres a day after some Muslim organisations raised objections to one of the songs in it.[27] The All-India Ulema Council complained that the Qawwali song ‘Noor-un-Ala-Noor’ was blasphemous.

And now he wants to return to India as per this report.

Centre plans to pave way for M F Husain's early return

Is the stage set for the next political drama?


  1. Like most of the controversies, these are also fuelled by the power-greedy. Once he is no more, the nation will be like he was the greatest painter of India... If he dies in Dubai, India will demand for his remains...

  2. I agree with Rocksea. The minute he is no more India will go crazy in paying tributes to him and clamor to get his remains back. While I don't condone hurting anybody's religious sentiments in the name of artistic freedom, the reaction to it was a bit over the top and harsh. You are right, Kitten, this seems to be the next big controversy waiting to happen.

  3. He is pretty happy in Dubai. But that is not the issue; the question is the abdication of the responsibility of the Indian state to ensure his safety and let the courts take a decision on the petitions filed against him.

    We cannot let goondas dictate terms.

    Unfortunately, the record of the government is quite blemished. Starting with the banning of the Satanic Verses, it has kept caving in to demands of pressure and extreme groups of all religions. So, there is a sort of competition among them, it seems, to get the government to bow.

    I hope Hussein can come back soon.

  4. Artists - the genuine ones are not interested in politics. they just want to do what they like to do.

    and india does not have the magnanmity to keep a man in his own home country.

    india culture have thrown out ( made it difficult to stay) many deserving ones, now everyone sits elsewhere, and not india and makes the world a happier place because of their contributions -

    on another note - this earth is a huge place and these boundaries are set by man - these rules and regulations and visas are all plans of politicians of territory of wealth and power etc -- they get a kick and an adrenalin rush.

    artists always LIVE BEYOND THEIR TIME. the lucky few get recognized.

  5. I agree with rocksea... India does the same.

    Nice to see your post. a weel written and informative. your effort to convey thoughts was complete.

  6. Rocksea: u r right... we shall wait for all that drama..

    Dreamer: sure.. one shouldnt hurt anyone's religious sentiments.. but I also think that we Indians are basically sensitive and tolerant when it comes to religion and would not puposely set out to hurt others...I am not sure what happened in this case..

  7. Vinod: If he was happy in Dubai he wouldnt have expressed his desire to return..

    and yes.. we have lots of other such reactions too...

    Anrosh: Yes... Artists live beyond their time and they are not shackled in their for nations without boundaries.. guess it will remain a dream..

    Abhi: Thank you...

  8. I thing artist is one who is extra sensitive, then how come he painted those nudes...I dont know what creativity is there in hurting other's sentiments.....But yes if he reamins in Dubai and dies there, he will become a bigger hero, better he comes back.

  9. Antarman: Welcome to my blog and thanks for your comment.

    Artists have been picturising/painting the nude all over the world since years and hence I do not think it is a new phenomenon. But then I am not sure how he managed to hurt the sentiments of many.

  10. He painted the nudes of hindu godesses..thats where he went wrong..he could paint just a women, but not ma durga.

  11. Antarman: Guess it is because I have never seen any of his paintings.. while writing this post I did see one which had too many figures in it.. i left it after a while since I couldnt infer anything from it...

  12. antaraman, can i say something ?

    man was evolved naked or created naked - it is human beings who have given the idea that "naked is bad". is it really?

    ever wonder why people like to look at a good figure - because they have a great body - great naked body under those clothes.

    Indian idol gods and goddess were created. they also have human like body - until and unless we break free from what pujaris and fanatic religious hoods propogate one can not evolve to a state of human being.

    Basically homo sapiens are animals. but we all are trying to be human beings ( unlike animals) everyday )

  13. Anrosh I agree to everything you say, but to me god is revered, worshipped, and I would never like to see the picture of my mother naked..would you? our respected people we dont do like that, we dont see whether my mom has a good figure, we dont even look at her with those eyes......I want to say so much on this, but wouldnt like to spam the comment section of my friend:)

  14. to antarman:

    i see what the problem is here - because one has a relationship to the picture which was recreated by hussain as naked - to whom you call as god/mother -

    the problem is not the picture, but the "relationship" that is attached to the picture.

  15. Antarman: please do spam :)

    I am sure you have reasons for your stance and so does Anrosh.. nd both of you meing mature individuals can thorw more light to this subject...

  16. Thanks Happy Kitten:)..yes, Hussain is not the first Indian painter to paint nudes, its about painting someone who is revered..and sometimes it hurts me a lot that hindu deities are always taken so lightly..could anyone dare to paint prophet like that?....even in the songs if there is word relating to them its removed, fatwas are issued, writers are banned...

  17. i think we are getting into a more sensitive discussion

    hindu gods, muslim prophets etc etc.

    it is all in the mind . if you believe that person hussain has painted is a god - it is . or if hussain has painted a prophet - lets's mohmad naked - of course a fatwa on and so forth.

    and if course if you feel that someone whom one considers "revered - is portrayed disdainly - then it hurts one's sentiments.

    may be the "revered" should be more angry about it than a human being - if god is god - one up and holy and revered god can take care of itself.. we human beings should live it to "god" to take care. isn't he more capable than us?

    - religious beliefs, cultural customs, political beliefs all play an havoc in the head and the result is 'violence ' - isn't it.

    as an artist hussain did what he wanted to and moved on - i don't even think he is thinking about it otherwise he won't be able to make more creations.

    coming back to the artists it is completely difficult to understand their complex head - of all that we know what he painted must have just been a coincidence of the painting of durga -- until and unless somebody bothered him to explain what his painting was about or did we just make an assumption?

    may be as a hindu , it struck you first and for someone who does not know hindu gods or goddess , for eg a scandinavian who knows nothing about durga or krishna it is an artist's fallacy, impression, fantasy,

    please note that i am writing this in the spirit of a discussion and not in offending anyone. this goes for everybody who is reading this and can make a judgement

  18. Anrosh: you have put it well...

    I think artists have complex minds (that is how the so called normal minds see it) or they have minds which is not shackled... sometimes it is difficult to understand their thought process..

    as for Gods... some of us sees them as such and they have remained so since many years and continue to be revered .. I sure do not think that their divinity will decrease or increase by my unholy intervention. this was my stance as a Christian when the Church made a noice on the book Da Vince Code..

    but then when all is said and done, the govt. should also take a uniform stance in every issue and not buckle just for the minority...

    nd the minority fails to understand that it hurts the minority more than the majority..

  19. but then the real question is who talks on behalf of the minority? and it is only the power hungry who cares not for Gods but wants the power in the name of God..

  20. The issues that rock our country!
    I am so disappointed.

  21. Indrani: yes.. the non issues that gets the most attention.. sadly...

  22. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  23. Anrosh: thanks for your comment..maybe I should have posted it even if it was not relevant to this post.... that was revelation indeed :)

  24. I find it difficult to understand some of these abstract modern paintings, but Hussain's are better in contrast. A very energetic person nonetheless. With individuality...

  25. by the way there is a movie called - through the eyes of the painter by hussain -

  26. Maddy: thought I was the odd one out when it came to modern/abstract paintings.. guess some buy them for investment sake..

    Hussein seems to invoke different reactions.. just like his paintings...

  27. Anrosh: thanks for the link...did check out some of his other movies too..

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