Saturday, June 11, 2011
Satish Gujral, Uday Bhaskar, Arpana Caur, Krishen Khanna on M.F.Husain
Satish Gujral, artist and friend
The news did not bring tears to my eyes rather I was filled with envy. The Man has lived life in its fullest and achieved an acclaim that no other artist in India
What brought me closer to Husain was our sharing the knowledge of Urdu alphabets. My hearing defect made me to depend at least fifty percent on written words and some sign language. No other language matches Urdu language in its simplicity that makes it like shorthand and that was how we opened means of the communication. The memory of Husain affection remained with me even in years when we had parted due to misunderstandings that look meaningless now.
His self imposed exile is a shame that India never got a chance to wipe off its face. The years he had to suffer the bigots seeded the poison that created the malady we have to suffer these days at the hand of our Netas.
A grand old man of contemporary art as part of the Progressive Arts Group (PAG).
He was prolific and managed to experiment, and he retained the painterliness in his work. There was the flamboyance in the man. Of course, he was more than flamboyant.
There is no Husain school. He is a towering figure. He has moved from doing hoardings to being a modern master. Basically he caught your attention and this was true of his entire ouevre.
He was the quintessential legend of 20th century Indian art.
He was the first one to who thought of taking art to the masses. He took his paintings of the series on the Mahabharata and Ramayana on bullock carts to the villages. This was in the 1960s. How many galleries were there in those days. He was a true patriot and who was kicked out. One of the canvases showed Bhishma Pitamaha on the bed of arrows. He was a fakir at heart. He had to die outside the country which is shameful. He was not only concerned about the price of his own paintings, but he would urge us – the younger generation – to seel our pianitngs at a higher price and bargain hard.
Painter and friend
Husain was central to the whole business of modern Indian art. Whether you liked him or differed with him, you dealt with his work with a great deal of reverence and interest.
For me he was a great friend. He helped him as he did many other painters. I helped him as well when he was not well known. I made some of my friends buy his work. Then it turned out well for all of us. We went our way, but we ramined friends. We had our differences but it did not affect the bonds of friendship built over decades. For example, I differed with him on the Emergency, But it did not matter. Our friendship survived.
The question of being modern is phoney. Either you are a modern or you are not. You cannot try to become one. We have to use modern as opposed to ancient, Yes. Husain painted in a modern manner but his subjects were taken from the life around him, what he saw, what he lived and where he lived.
He was extremely well read in Urdu. He would always quote from Urdu poetry, and it was always apt. He also wrote poetry in English.
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