Friday, June 10, 2011

The Legend remains, in bold strokes…

The vigor of his brush strokes, the flow of colors, the ease in creating drawings, the bold lines and incredible palettes … there is only one artist, who can paint like the wind… MF Hussain!

Maqbool Fida Husain (17 September 1915 – 9 June 2011)
Celebrated Indian artist MF Husain, who earned both fame and wrath for his paintings, died in London today after being unwell for over a month. He was 95. The artist breathed his last at the Royal Brompton Hospital at 2.30 am local time.
M.F. Husain was born in Pandharpur on September 17, 1915 to mother Zunaib and father Fida. His mother died when he was three years old. His father remarried and the family moved to Indore where he did his primary education.
As a child, Husain learnt the art of calligraphy- practiced the Kulfic Khat with its geometric forms and loved to read poetry while he resided with his uncle in Baroda. After painting many countryside landscapes and completing his schooling in Indore, Husain decided to move to Mumbai to make his career in art. He joined the J.J. school of arts.
mf-hussain (2)
In 1937, he started his career painting cinema hoardings for a livelihood. . In Husain's 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”. Given this bad pay, Husain tried other jobs as well. One of the best paying was a toy factory, where he designed and built fretwork toys.
In between, Husain got married to Fazila in the year 1941 and they had two daughters and three sons.

8 horses
In 1947, Husain won an award for his paintings (Sunhera Sansaar) at the annual exhibition of the Bombay art society and this marked the beginning of a vibrant colorful career ahead waiting for this art maestro. Husain did a lot of art experimentation in his early years by blending different ethnic and mythological themes to create luminous art forms.
His creativity, style and innovation in paintings have made him reach the pinnacle in Indian art. F.N. Souza, a member of The Progressive Artist's Group, which was formed to give new dimensions to Indian art, invited Husain to become a member of it in 1948.
Progressive Artists Group, a group formed to explore a new idiom for Indian art, paved new pathways for Husain’s artistic career. Progressive group’s involvement exposed Husain to the works of Emil Nolde and Oskar Kokoschka and made a strong influence, which led him to make some remarkable works 'Re Between The Spider And The Lamp', 'Zameen and Man' etc. He then visited Delhi, where he encountered ancient Mathura sculpture and Indian miniature paintings. This was a turning point of his career as an artist as he assimilated ideas from Western and Indian art.
From 1948 to 1950 a series of exhibitions all over India brought Husain's work to the notice of the public.
In 1951 Husain travelled to China. In the following year he had his first solo exhibition in Zurich, and over the next few years his work was widely seen in Europe and the USA.
By 1955 Husain went on to become one of the foremost artists in India and was awarded the ‘Padma Shri’. In 1971, Husain was invited along with Pablo Picasso at the Sao Paulo Biennial. Apart from the several solo exhibitions, Husain has many studios in major metropolitans of the country. In 1973, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan, in 1989, the Padma Vibhushan. He was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 1986.
Husain has also made feature films, like "Through the Eyes of a Painter" (1967) and "Gajagamini”(Director, Art Director, Actor -2000), the former winning the Golden Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival. In 2004, Husain directed and has also written lyrics for two songs of the film Meenaxi: Tale of 3 cities.

After a long career, in 1996, when Husain was 81 years old, controversy arose over paintings originally created in the 1970s which were interpreted as anti-Hindu. After legal cases and death threats in his home country, he was on a self imposed exile from 2006.
Husain had an extensive portfolio from painting to film, and he mastered in both art forms to the fullest… His calligraphic skills might have made it easy to use bold, expressive, quick brush strokes that created figures that narrated the stories from Epics or the culture of people in each landscape wherever he visited. His lines were very expressive. It voiced the images, in vigorously running horses, notes of a Veena player, or the path of enlightenment to Buddha. Colors in his palette were so apposite with the audacious lines, being a symbol of hope, when he painted Mother Teresa holding the orphan baby in her lap, a new reading of Pietà from the contemporary period. Works on different religions in India shows his mastery over painting in minimalist idioms.

His skill over the medium enabled him to capture the inner essence of the religion, culture or landscape that he was transcribing to his large canvases; the transition of the subject/predicament embodied was complete, impregnated with his own interpretation, still narrating the essence of the source.
Husain developed a unique style that combined the sensuous female form from the classical period of early India; the strong colors of the Pahadi miniatures; and Indian folk art. These elements have come to characterize Husain's signature style. Husain's line casts into motion his dynamic pictorial spaces; his brilliant colors envelop the space with symbolic and expressive values; and his distinct human forms transform the narrative on the painting surface into an intimate experience of poetry.

Now MF Husain's works will continue to be a challenge to the conservative thoughts. Let it be an open dialogue...

Note : Shobha Menon is a Indian born artist, now living in Philadelphia USA, who has been deeply inspired by MF Hussain

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Blogger madhupal said...

MF Hussain enna legendine manushyan marakkilla.....

June 10, 2011 at 8:47 AM  
Blogger Dr V Jayarajan said...

It is great. You have done a great job by updating the death of a legend.

June 10, 2011 at 6:53 PM  
Blogger Deise Puga said...

Beautiful article on this great master of painting.
M. F. Hussain was a special invitee along with Pablo Picasso at the Sao Paulo Biennial in 1971.
So on behalf of Brazil, I would like to join the Shobha Menon, in tribute to Hussain, who remain among us as one of the exponents of Modernist Painting in the world.
Shobha, congratulations for the article.
Thank you Chandradasan!!


Deise Puga

June 12, 2011 at 2:55 PM  
Blogger Paul Mathew said...

A well deserved tribute to a great artist and human being. It is shameful for us as a country that this man had to die in exile. I am told that a few weeks before his death he asked a friend travelling from Mumbai to get him some Indian newspapers. When the friend reached MFH with the papers he found that Hussain already had all those papers with him. The friend asked surprised, "why did you want me to bring these to you when you already had them?". MFH held the papers close to his face and said, "but these have the smell of Mumbai". If this story is true, it shows how much he missed his country. What a shame !

June 12, 2011 at 4:41 PM  

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