“He was barefooted, and many young students thought that he was a poor man who cannot buy a pair of shoes, as the tall, slim and bony structure with pointed nose and snow-white hair entered the corridors of the art institution situated at the Mall, Lahore Pakistan.”
These were the words of Dr Rahat Naveed Masud, who was charring a reference in memory of Maqbool Fida Hussain at the premises of the College of Art and Design, university of the Punjab.
Dr Shaukat Mahmood, Dr Anis Siddiqui, Mr. Habib Alam, Mr. Atif Ameer, Ms Sumera Jawad and Ms Naela Amir also shared their thoughts and views about the Indian maestro who was equally loved in Pakistan.
MF Hussain was a pure gem of the subcontinent with a unique vision and unparalleled way of expression. When he talked, he talked softly, when walked, he walked erectly and when he painted he painted vigorously! Many titled him as Picasso of India, but this adjective might not elaborate his artistic excellence; he earned for himself in the subcontinent. Many critics call him a non-artistic painter, especially when he came up with his paintings figuring few female actors like Madhuri Dixit and Madhu Bala.
In all this argument and approbation, he cultivated everything for himself as well as for his work; respect, admiration, fellowship, association and adoration.
Before the popularity of Madhuri Dixit, many of Husain’s fans might not be aware of the stance of Maqbool Fida Husain in the subcontinent as an artist. It was, unfortunately, ignorance and lack of information that many came to know MF Husain through a star of Bollywood, who no doubt was a great actress, but the former was more than just a star.
MF Husain was one of those artists who cater for themselves by themselves only and who loved to keep their distinctive attitude all the way through their life. MF Husain would always remain an important painter in the omnibus of Indian contemporary artists.
Many western painters have also been involved in painting variety of characters like dancers, clowns, and singers. If Manet carried out the singers, Lautrec expressed the persona of singers, clowns and circus girls while Degas’ brush has been always busy in rendering the twisted elegance of Balled Dancers. Although, these painters were personifying diverse characters, but their main emphasis was on capturing the art form associated to these characters.
MF Hussain was allegedly accused for embodying the artist rather than his art, the dancer rather than her dance or the heroine of a movie, rather than her acting.
Whatsoever the comment would be; the reality is that MF Husain has contributed in the contemporary Indian art with dynamism and heartiness that actually distinct him from the others, which never get to weaken throughout decades.
In 1940s, MF Hussain and his art was deeply influenced by the modern concepts and movements. He applied the techniques of Cezanne and Matisse to elaborate Mahabharta and Ramayna. Later, Hussain could be seen painting in a Post-Modern way when he was found painting his canvas, spread over the floors, with a long brush that looked more like a wand! Actually, his brush was not less than a magic wand with which; he produced almost 60,000 frames!
Life is very roguish; it has its own patterns. MF Hussain, after being accepted, loved and adored for his art, across the Indian soil, was forced to an exile, due to his art only. He was accused of putting Mother India (Bharat Mata) on canvas in a symbolic and personified way that ignited the fundamentalists to indict Hussain of blasphemy!
The bony hands, of a Santa Clause looking old man, lost the magic wand while the bare feet stopped walking when, in the mid of year 2011, MF Hussain breathed his last in London. A chapter of the contemporary South Asian art closed forever!