If you ever want to see the vivacious nature of Indian contemporary paintings, have a look at the paintings of M.F. Husain.

Maqbool Fida Husain was the most iconic face of Indian art sector. His bold way of expression intrigues the interests of millions of art aficionados not just in India but across the globe.

Husain holds a humungous portfolio of contemporary and other forms of paintings (estimated to be more than 10,000). His works mostly gained publicity (both negative and positive) because of his out-of-box thinking and his courageous approach.

He was a gifted artist, who knows how to create an exclusive artistic means of communication. This artistic language was a sophisticated blend of contemporary standards (mostly inspired by western art) and visual dialect.

His paintings literally spoke with the viewers.

Early life

Born in a town in Maharashtra, Husain belonged to a Sulaymani Bohra family. His talent for drawing & painting was visible when he was a toddler only. Husain showed a keen interest in art, which made him join an evening art school.

Husain wanted to go and learn in J.J.School of Art in Mumbai but couldn’t do so as a result of lack of resources.

A few years later, Husain came back to Mumbai and started his dream run by living in a cheap lodging and painting cinema hoardings. It was the year 1947 when Husain reflected his passion for art in his very first participation in an art exhibition.

He also became a founder member of Progressive art group formed after independence. This group was focused on creating art beyond the western influence and having a sense of individuality.

Apart from Husain, there was Francis Newton Souza and S.H. Raza who got extremely popular from the progressive art group. Souza showed his prominence in London, while Raza gained his accolades in Paris.

Husain, on the other hand, chooses to stay with his roots. Husain always chooses the lives of people, diverse traditions, mythological tales, and religious epics as the theme for his paintings.

He had a habit of poking the hell out of the sophistication of the society by pointing out the ugliness that’s hidden.

His intense traveling made him familiar with the variegated cultures and roots of India. The sad part was, instead of bestowing such exquisite painter with recognition, he was ridiculed.

The ridicule of Husain

Although M.F.Husain has acquired numerous awards and was recognized quite well, that did not stop the harassment of this great artist.

Husain got himself surrounded by controversy when his artwork that represents Hindu Goddess got vigilante’s and extremist’s attention. The most shocking part was that the painting that created the havoc was crafted by Husain 4 decades before a complaint was lodged in the 1990s.

He was charged to spread enmity between the two communities. His Mumbai house was rampaged in 1998.

Husain was brave, he never let any negative situations affect his themes and artistic flair. He changed the phase and face of beautiful Indian contemporary art comprehensively.

Unfortunately, Husain wanted to leave in peace and hence decided to leave India in 2007 to Qatar (where he got the citizenship).

Husain’s paintings

Husain made the biggest deal in the history of Indian art when he signed a contract to a Mumbai industrialist to sell his 100 canvases for a whopping 100 crore INR.  

His one of the most renowned and well-recognised paintings is the “The Battle of Ganga and Jamuna”. This amazing piece of artistry was sold at a colossal price of $ 1.6 million at Christies’ auction.

His contemporary approach to reflect the Hindu Gods and Goddess was not welcomed by the extremists who got offended. This, however, did not stop Husain from crafting some impeccable piece of art.

He was bestowed with the title “Picasso of India” for his amazing contribution to the Indian art world.

Sadly, he passed away in the year 2011 owing to ill health in London. India lost a gem, a gem which was meant to be kept on the crown but was continuously looked down.

He gave Indian contemporary art a powerful face. Indian art would have never flourished if Husain who unlike his peers (Souza and Raza) would not have stayed in the nation.


Published by Tranding Stories