Maqbool Fida Husain better known as M. F. Husain (17 September 1915 – 9 June 2011) was an Indian artist known for executing bold, vibrantly coloured narrative paintings in a modified Cubist style. He was one of the most celebrated and internationally recognized Indian artists of the 20th century.He was one of the founding member of Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group.
Husain is associated with Indian modernism in the 1940s. His early association with the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group used modern technique, and was inspired by the “new” India after the partition of 1947. His narrative paintings, executed in a modified Cubist style, can be caustic and funny as well as serious and sombre. His themes—sometimes treated in series—include topics as diverse as Gandhi, Mother Teresa, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the British Raj, and motifs of Indian urban and rural life.
Husain’s later works have stirred controversy, which included nude portrayals of Hindu deities, and a nude portrayal of Bharat Mata. Right-wing organizations called for his arrest, and several lawsuits were filed against him for hurting religious sentiments. He remained in a self imposed exile from 2006 until his death in 2011, accepting Qatari citizenship in 2008.
In 1967, he received the National Film Award for Best Experimental Film for Through the Eyes of a Painter. In 2004, he directed Meenaxi: A Tale of Three Cities, a film he worked on with his artist son Owais Husain, which was screened in the Marché du film section of the 2004 Cannes Film Festival.
Hussain was born on 17 September 1915 in Pandharpur, Maharashtra. He picked up taste in art through studying calligraphy while he stayed at a Madrasa in Baroda. Husain attended the Sir Jamsetjee Jeejebhoy School of Art in Mumbai. Early in his career, Husain painted cinema posters in Mumbai. To earn additional income, he worked for a toy company designing and building toys. He often traveled to Gujarat to paint landscapes whenever he could afford to travel.
Husain developed his painting skills in the 1930s, painting billboards for the growing Bollywood film industry. This was a clique of young artists who wished to break with the nationalist traditions established by the Bengal school of art and to encourage an Indian avant-garde, engaged at an international level.
The artist cite “The Partition” of India and Pakistan 14 August 1947, with its resulting religious rioting and heavy loss of life as their reason for forming The Progressive Artist’s Group in Bombay in December 1947. The artists saw the Partition as a “turning point” for India, and their new style of art was urged on by, and was also a turning point for, (modern) Indian Art. Husain’s first solo art exhibition was in 1952 in Zurich. His first U.S.A. exhibit was at India House in New York in 1964. his biography written by Akhilesh “Maqbool” is the most appreciated book published by Rajkamal Prakashan New Delhi.
AWARDS AND HONOURS
- Padma Shri in 1966, Government of India.
- Padma Bhushan in 1973, Government of India.
- Padma Vibhushan in 1991, Government of India.
- Raja Ravi Varma Award in 2007, Government of Kerala.
- Honorary Doctorates from Banaras Hindu University, Jamia Millia Islamia, University of Calicut (2003) and University of Mysore.
- National Art Award in 2004, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi.
- Aditya Vikram Birla ‘Kalashikkar’ Award in 1997 for Lifetime Achievement.
- National Film Award for Best Experimental Film for Through the Eyes of a Painter, in 1968 India.
- Golden Bear short film award for his film Through the Eyes of a Painter at Berlin International Film Festival in 1967 and purchased by Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), New York
- International Biennale Award in 1959, Tokyo.
- First Prize at the National Exhibition of Art in 1955, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi.
- Bombay Art Society in 1947, Mumbai.