Maqbool Fida Husain (1915- 2011), one of the most highly decorated Indian artists, is known not only for his great body of figurative art, but also for his ground-breaking films. He is represented in many international museums and collections in the world.
MF Husain was born on September 17, 1915 in Pandharpur in Maharashtra. He started as a billboard painter for the Hindi film industry in Mumbai and rose to the stature of Pablo Picasso and earned the sobriquet ‘Indian Picasso’ later in his life.’ It is to his credit that he was one of the biggest grossers as a painter whose works sold for enormous sums in auctions held in London and New York.
Husain’s works brought him many laurels. The Government of India conferred on him Padma Sree, Padma Bhushan, and Padma Vibhushan.
Husain’s paintings included evocative life portraits to massive murals. His works, marked with his bold and imaginative strokes, spoke of his deep understanding of the human condition and the great Indian epics, Mahabharata and Ramayana. He was described as a maverick painter, iconoclastic painter and the like. Though MF Husain was an avant-garde artist, he had to face several court cases and death threats in the 1970s and 80s from right-wing Hindus when he painted the Hindu gods and goddesses in the nude. In 1998, his house was attacked; in 2008 an exhibition showcasing his paintings in Delhi was vandalised. In May 2006, an exhibition of his paintings in London was also cancelled owing to protests. All these incidents forced him to leave India in 2006 and settle in Dubai. Later, he accepted Qatari citizenship in 2010.
While in self-exile, Husain wanted to return to his country and join his friends and relatives but his dream could not be realised. He breathed his last in London on June 9, 2011 at a local hospital.
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The Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group in 1947. The group was formed by Francis Newton Souza and seen in this photograph are Syed Haider Raza, Tyab Mehta, Vasudeo Gaitonde and Maqbool Fida Husain.