MF Husain died today. He was 95, and one of the most famous artists to have come from India. No mean achievement, considering that his country of origin loves software, cricket, movies and nothing else. The emphasis his place of origin is unfortunate because, this space should have been celebrating a life spent creating thousands of beautiful painting, but instead we are forced to introspect on external circumstance.
Well, India has a lot to ask itself. Hardly is there room for art in the society. The people who do not conform to majoritarianism are forced into exile or threatened or put into prison. MF Husain, was forced to go into exile, as extremist forces threatened him. His guilt? Painting nude pictures of goddesses. And the laughable irony is that not many had actually seen the said pictures, just violent protest based on hearsay. About 96 cases to fight against. Not just artists-books get banned, before being published in India, after presumption of volatile views, mostly against religion or famous personalities like Nehru and Gandhiji.
If artists have to paint based on set rules, what's left to celebrate? Might as well ask the computer to do it. And, if any religion is offended by Art, must be the fault of the religion, not art. And if any society can't protect or nurture its artist and writers, shame on the society-whatever hoary heritage you boast of. Hey, BTW, we are speaking of a country with millions of temples housing nude gods, goddesses and animals.
Holding long brushes, MF Husain's paintings were unique, with a style only his. You can see his influence in the younger artists of today and in the selection of painting across galleries in India. Of course, he also helped Indian art remain in the world stage. Since, his art sold for millions, there was always the promise associated with the name MF.
As this is being written, voices are urging to bring back his mortal remains back to India. Please, that would be such a humiliation to his memory. You couldn't protect him when alive, why bother now?