Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Reviving fond memories of a true art icon

Many of MF Husain’s memories, major life moments, turning points and milestones that became an integral part of Indian art history itself were shared at an event to remember the late barefoot painter. The program was organized by activist group SAHMAT.

One of the SAHMAT members, Ram Rahman mentioned that the idea was to honor Husain, the forerunner of public art, who made immense contribution to public artscape of India. Here are the excerpts of an essay that the art body has hosted on its website to honor Husain:

Posterity will certainly name Husain as one of the most prominent post-Indpendence artists to shape the contemporary in the spirit of a living and changing tradition. More than any other modern artist in India, he has understood how a syncretic civilization and the dynamics of a multi-ethnic, multi-religious nation have together prompted these interpretations and empowered the community of artists to evolve a uniquely modern language consistent with the complexity of these civilizational narratives.

Indeed, he was such an iconic figure that we could use the very iconography of Maqbool Fida Husain, of the person himself, to forward ideas about Indian visual culture in the framework of a dynamic public sphere. Already, his life and work are beginning to serve as an allegory for the changing modalities of the secular in modern India — and the challenges that the narrative of the nation holds for us.

It is unfortunate that this very aspect of his persona led to a relentless campaign of vilification and calumny against him by fundamentalist groups since 1996. After a decade of standing up to threats to his person and vandalizing of his art works in public spaces, M.F.Husain went into a self-imposed exile in 2006. Four years later he was offered and accepted the citizenship of Qatar. The artistic community, secular and democratic opinion in the country however stood steadfastly with him and had been urging the government to bring him back.

We believe that India will be the poorer if a proper monument to Husain and his paintings is not created in the country for posterity…

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