Art & Culture

‘M.F. Hussain’s Departure is a Loss to India,’ says Bangalore art community

The much controversial departure of India’s iconic artist M.F. Hussain to Qatar has Indians questioning the state of democracy in the country.

MF Hussain bids farewell to India.MF Hussain bids farewell to India.

Nonagenarian artist M.F. Hussain who is iconic to the Indian art scene accepted Qatari citizenship recently. He has been often quoted as the Pablo Picasso of India. After, and after a long, successful career his work suddenly became controversial in 1996, when he was 81 years old, following the publication of an article about nude images of Hindu deities painted in the 1970s. Following death threats and legal actions, Hussain went into exile. There were 1,250 cases pending against him all over India. But all were squashed aside and only 3 of them are remaining.

MF HUssain's controversial painting. MF HUssain's controversial painting.
Hussain said in an interview with NDTV that the reason why he left the country is to work on three major projects. The history of Indian civilization from Mohenjedaro to Manmohan Singh, History of other civilizations dating back to Babylon and cinema which is close to his hear. “Cinema is my love - 100 years of Indian cinema, it would be completing 100 years next year. So, I wanted to do these projects in India but there are so many obstacles you know, it is not easy to work. First there is also the question of finding a sponsor. So, I was waiting, this I decided in 2004 when I came to Dubai to find some sponsor. So, in London I found a sponsor for history of Indian civilization and in Qatar, Sheikha Mozah invited me to do a history of other civilizations and Abu Dhabi will sponsor the project on Indian Cinema, I think in a big way next year” he said with an interview with Ndtv’s Barkha Dutt. Hussain said that had he been 40, he would have fought them tooth and nail. “But here I want to focus only on my work, I don't want any disturbance. I need all comforts and facilities to the maximum”
MyBangalore caught up with some Bangalore based artists and art gallery owners taking their opinion on the issue with Hussain, and the future of artists in the country. Many of them said that the situation if continues like this is very bleak for younger artists. Bangalore based artists have held the government responsible for not taking Hussain’s side, and keeping mum about the entire issue.

Yusuf ArakkalYusuf Arakkal
Renowned painter and sculptor, Yusuf Arakkal said, “Hussain sahab is like a father figure to me. I’ve known him for almost 30 years. When I was studying at Chitrakala Parishad he stayed in our house. We have a small bungalow in Guruvayoor, and he had stayed there when he came to visit. So I’ve known him for a really long time. I wasn’t unduly influenced by his work, and I would talk to him regularly. At least once in a month, I would call or meet him. It’s a loss to India and it’s unfortunate that he has to take up this decision. In the sense it’s our loss, whatever be the reason ultimately it is a cultural loss of this country. Tomorrow my grand daughter is going to say Hussain is a Qatari, not an Indian. We’ve taken away something from tomorrow’s generation”  

Nilofer SulemanNilofer Suleman
Nilofer Suleman, popular artist said, “What was done was completely unfair, the government should have been done something about it. Feel very awful about the whole thing and they should have done something to protect him. Nobody did anything, and this issue has been in play for such a long time. Why would we want to loose someone so important? For an artist, there has to be a lot of creative freedom. On the other hand, one doesn’t need to offend any community, it’s not right to make any kind of verbal statement against any religion”

Well known photographer, Shibu Arakkal said, “I personally think we are a make believe democracy. He is not done or painted something that our country has not seen, it’s very much a part of our social culture. I think all of this is done for political brownie points, and if artists can’t express themselves freely, and people can’t stand with them, the scene is definitely not looking good for younger artists. Art is very important for the society, after everybody has made the money, they will eventually come to art, because that’s the last teacher. It will put everything into perspective. And honestly, Hussain is 100 times bigger than any of the politicians in the country. At the end of the day, it’s not his loss, it’s ours”
Essmath KhaleeliEssmath Khaleeli
Esssmath Khaleeli, Apparao Art Gallery, said, “Art is a medium where things are always subjective. It is one of the few spaces in the world where artists can get away with anything, it’s not the government’s place to decide how an artists work needs to be. But, here you are taking away from people the freedom of speech, which is one of your fundamental rights in the constitution. Artists are different kind of people, and in this case there is much ado about nothing. I think things have to be put into perspective. We’ve got naxals here, and what is the government doing about potholes, what are they doing about naxalites, why are they going behind one M.F. Hussain. We have a lot of problems that are bigger than him, why is he being given such an undue importance for one”
Tags: Nilofer Suleman, M.F. Hussain, Ndtv, Barkha Dutt, Eesmath Khaleeli, Qatar, painter, sculptor


anuhya Jul 15th, 2010 09:26 PM

ART according to me is something which emerges out and finds its wings of expression under the conditions of total freedom of thought and deed..........for gods' sake lets not make everything controversial and lets just not invite a situation wherein the emerging generations of indis find it difficult to survive in here !.. 

Neena Jun 23rd, 2010 01:38 AM

I m surprised we talking about Nudity and hurting religious feelings!! when at the same we appreciate sculptures of  Mohanjodharo, Saas Bahu Temple and many more...There is a problem with our mentality, Point of veiw , differences and discrimination is in our minds and hearts not in the heart of painter. He is above from all these petty Nudity and hurting religion emotions. If you want to change things change society for that matter not the painter.
Let painters paint their feelings with their Own colors and own brush.

Lakshmi Aravind Mar 08th, 2010 02:11 PM

the controversial picture of "mother India", for me it is one of the most beautiful man made pictures I have ever seen. see how cleverfully he drawn it. women body parts became the outline of Indian atlas. nice and cute. there are hundreds of nude sculptures in most of the Indian temples. it is the beauty of india and its culture. Millions of Indians (Hindus) like and respect this great artist. only some intolerant fanatics and fascists make this problem and our rulers don't have courage and will to protect him. Sure, M.F.hussain will live even after centuries. That time, history will mock us for mentally torturning a great man.

j k sharma Mar 07th, 2010 02:53 AM

Mr. Hussain i want to come straight to the point, draw a cartoon of your "allah" (ok not a cartoon but just Image of Allah)in what you call it a modern art , then i want to see where the hell u can take shelter and get citizenship, evern Quataris  will be first to chop your hands. If you got my point, then just keep quite and reside their and die, but you have  hurt the feelings of other religion you will suffer,Govt. too is consists of other religion in majority. so think over and ........!!!!!!

sensible Mar 05th, 2010 12:23 AM

Why don't those ladies pose nude and get themselves painted by mf hussain. I dont care if they do that. But i will object if he paints mother India nude. You have the right to expression, but that is along with your duty not to hurt others sentiments. There are no rights without duties.

Narayana Rao C K Mar 04th, 2010 08:27 PM

There is lot of difference between naked truth and false nudity

pravin Mar 04th, 2010 08:13 PM

i like many do not know hussain ...and it is not necessary....but it is very truth that hussain hurt sentiments of millions people.... does sentiments of millions not important than one person though whatever he may be,,,,even child can tell...he had received praise from same how he can not see their rage when he hurt them.... we do not follow rss or sangh.... but do not hurt our sentiments...

AN Art Lover Mar 04th, 2010 06:48 PM

Good riddance!

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