You’ve got your finger on the pulse. You can navigate – strike that – you can overtake any conversation about the hottest book, movie, restaurant in town.
But all this buzz you’ve been seeing online about the passing of the man some call the “Picasso of India” has you a bit confused. You don’t quite know what to make of it.
We’re going to set you straight. Here are 10 things you need to know about M.F. Husain guaranteed to help you keep your hipster status.
1) M.F. Husain, considered the father of contemporary Indian art, died at 95 last Thursday June 9th. He was born on September 17, 1915 and painted till the day he passed away.
2) He came from humble beginnings, starting his career painting movie billboards in Mumbai (then Bombay). Often perched precariously on a scaffold he used broad brush strokes and vibrant color which informed his later work.
3) In 1947 he joined the Progressive Artists’ Group, an organization that encouraged embracing modernism and breaking free of traditional painting styles. He was known for his cubist and abstract depiction of figures and animals in Indian art. He brought to the canvas a freedom which very few artists had the courage to replicate.
4) He was a Muslim by upbringing, but indifferent to religion and politics. This got him into trouble, especially when he painted gods and goddesses of Hinduism unclothed and in sexually suggestive poses.
5) As a result, he was bitterly hated by Hindu nationalist groups and beginning in the 1990s they mounted a campaign of intimidation and violence against him.
6) He left India in fear of his safety and remained in self-imposed exile living between London and Dubai for the last years of his life.
7) He was incredibly generous, making drawings for children and friends in copious numbers.
8) His was one of the most expensive artists in India with paintings selling for close to two million dollars.
9) He loved to paint women and galloping stallions – sometimes together.
And the last thing you need to know about M.F. Husain…
10) He preferred to be barefoot at all times.
We could go on about his impact on the art scene, the political scene, his commanding presence, his likeability, but we’ll let you see for yourself below. Make sure and listen closely to the end of the video. You may catch his profound quote “I take life as a celebration – even the death is a celebration.”
And though he spent years outside of India he longed to go home. “My heart will always be in India” he said.
We now take a moment to honor the man who changed the landscape of Indian contemporary art. He lived richly doing what he loved. Thank you M.F. Husain for your gift of art and for living with a passion most of us only dream of.