Friday, June 10, 2011

M.F. Husain: 1915 - 2011

Modern India's greatest painter, M.F. Husain, died yesterday. I wrote an obituary for the financial daily Mint. You can read it here.

11 comments:

Debu Barve said...

Girish,
Liked your article on livemint. Very concise and well rounded discussion on the different aspects of Hussain's life and work.

Debu

Girish Shahane said...

Thanks!

~rAGU said...

I think you sound like a left-wing fundamentalist when you say "Hindu activists ... drove out a man". So much filing cases for insulting as if you folks are above the law! Also when you use the word blasphemous which is not relevant to religions originating in South Asia. You sound more like a fanatic trying whip up some frenzy rather than a sincerer admirer writing about something he is passionate about.

Girish Shahane said...

Blasphemy refers to an irreverent representation of sacred figures or symbols which can be perceived as offensive. It is perfectly relevant to Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, and is exactly what Husain was accused of. Apart from this incorrect point, your note just throws a few labels around hoping they'll stick.

manish nai said...

Very nice piece Girish :)

adrian mckinty said...

Girish

COmpletely off topic, but you may find this amusing

Girish Shahane said...

Really incredible; she looks the same after two books and five children.

~rAGU said...

Just as the word "communal" has become loaded, "blasphemy" is not what it means in dictionary. It is often associated with violent reactions relating to Abrahamic religions and other related connotations irrelevant to some other religions. Your article throws accusations so liberally that it seems to seek some throwing back! I like your writing style. But it stops there.

Girish Shahane said...

You're like Humpty Dumpty, Ragu, making words mean whatever you want them to :) Blasphemy has nothing exclusively to do with Abrahamic religions, never has, never will. Because intolerance is not restricted to particular communities, though you'd like to believe it is.
If you compare the amount of space devoted to 'accusations' in this article to the space it occupies in most others, I think you'll find I'm less focussed on the controversies of Husain's last years than other writers. I certainly don't throw accusations liberally: Husain did face abuse, threats and lawsuits for over a decade.

Anonymous said...

Girish,

Love reading your blog; have a fairly limited understanding of art in general so find your perspective most illuminating. For example, had no idea we had a Mani Kaul until you wrote about him. Watched bits of his documentary on Dhrupad on Youtube- like his style.

As far as Hussain goes, I used to defend his work vociferously from a freedom-of-expression POV. However, a friend once posed this question, "Why did Hussain, who's drawn various Hindu deities in the nude, never draw a significant Muslim woman in the nude?" I didn't have an answer, though I have a hunch. Any thoughts?

Girish Shahane said...

Thanks Anonymous. I assume Husain drew nude Hindu goddesses and not nude Muslim figures because there's a tradition of the former and not of the latter.
I don't believe he was at all interested in proving any points about free expression. Rather, he was extending received iconography into modernist form, and therefore worked with received iconography from Hinduism and Islam.