MAQBOOL FIDA HUSAIN
Born 1915, Pandharpur, Maharashtra, India
Lives and works between Dubai and London.
M. F. Husain is the most recognised figure of modern and contemporary Indian art; he joined the Progressives Artists Group in 1948. A self-taught artist, Husain moved to Mumbai at an early age and began his artistic career by painting the billboards for cinemas. He recalls, "We were paid barely four or six annas per square foot. That is, for a 6x10 feet canvas, we earned a few rupees. And apart from the New Theatre distributor, the others did not pay us at all. As soon as I earned a little bit I used to take off for Surat, Baroda and Ahmedabad to paint landscapes".
His first exhibition took place in 1947 with his painting Sunhera Sansaar, shown at the annual exhibition of the Bombay Art Society and Husain decided to stay in India during the Partition in 1947. Between 1948 – 1950, Husain's work caught the public eye in a series of exhibitions across India and through the fifties and sixties, he traveled outside India, with his first foray into China in 1951. The following year he had his first solo exhibition in Zurich and so began a series of exhibitions across Europe and the United States. In 1966, the Government of India awarded him the Padmashree.
Over the following decades, Husain's fame spread and was glorified by what was deemed to be a rather controversial approach to his art. His Shwetambari exhibition at the Jehangir Art Gallery consisted of two halls shrouded in white cloth, whorls of which also shared the floor with torn newspapers. Later, he gave a public performance at the Tata Center in Calcutta. For several days a crowd watched as he painted pictures of six goddesses. On the last day of the exhibition he destroyed his paintings by overpainting them in white. Several of his paintings in the nineties were named after the film actress Madhuri Dixit, perhaps displaying a childhood obsession that goes back to the time of painting billboards. As reported in the Times of India, "the Padma Vibhushan awardee continues to paint events that are topmost on contemporary minds, be it the solar eclipse, the cricket mania or the victory at Kargil".
Themes in Husain's work have repeatedly returned to his cultural roots, but he has embraced diverse influences, be that the cinematography of Buñuel to themes that have blended folk, tribal and mythological figures to create vibrantly contemporary, living art forms in his work. Icons of Indian culture through the ages seek to capture the quintessence of his subjects, like Mother Teresa, Krishna and the goddess Saraswati. Besides painting, he has also made feature films, including "Through the Eyes of a Painter" in 1966, which won the Golden Bear Award winner at the Berlin Film Festival (1967), and "Gaja Gamini" in 2000. The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Vibhushan awards, both prestigious civilian awards.
Select Solo and Group Exhibitions
2008 Winter Moderns, an exhibit of five senior modern Indian artists - M.F. Husain,
F.N. Souza, Shyamal Dutta Ray Satish Gujral and B. Prabha, Aicon Gallery,
2008 Winter Moderns, exhibit of senior Indian modern masters, Aicon gallery,
2007 From the Vault, Aicon Gallery, London and New York
Epic India: Paintings by M F Husain, Peabody Essex Museum, Massachusetts, USA
2006 M F Husain: Early Masterpieces 1950s-70s, Asia House, London, UK
The Moderns Revisited, Grosvenor Vadehra, London, UK
2005 Ashta Nayak: Eight Pioneers of Indian Art, Gallery ArtsIndia, New York
2000 New Works, The Fine Art Resource, Berlin
1995 Inaugural Exhibition; River of Art, Art Today, New Delhi
1991 National Exposition of Contemporary Art, National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai
1988 Takoka Municipal Museum of Art & Meugro Museum of Art, Tokyo, Japan
1987 Coups de Coeur, Halles de I'lle, Geneva, Switzerland
1986 Indian Art Today, The Philips Collection, Washington D.C.
Contemporary Indian Art, Grey Art Gallery, New York.
1986 Sista's Art Gallery, Kala Yatra, Bangalore
1985 100 Jahre Indische Malerei, Altes Museum, Berlin
1982 Modern Indian Painting, Hirshhorn Museum, Washington,DC.
Contemporary Indian Art, Festival of India, Royal Academy of Art, London
India: Myth and Reality: Aspect of Contemporary Indian Art, Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, UK
Six Indian Painters, Tate Gallery, London
Indische Kunst Heute, Kunsthalle Darmstadt
1973 Retrospective Exhibition, Birla Academy of Art and Culture, Calcutta
1971 São Paulo Biennale, Brazil
1970 Art Today -II, Asoka Art Gallery, Calcutta
1969 21 Years of Painting , Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai
1966 Art Now in India, Newcastle, England and Ghent, Belgium
Commonwealth Art Exhibition, London
Oberoi International Hotel, New Delhi
1965 Exhibitions in Baghdad and Kabul
1960 Tokyo Biennale, Japan
Frankfurter Kunstkabinett, organized by Hanna Bekker vom Rath
Exhibition in Rome
1959 São Paulo Biennale, Brazil. Also 1971 as special invitee together with Pablo Picasso
1958 Eight Painters, International Culture Centre, New Delhi
1956 Zurich and Prague
1955 National Exhibition, Rabindra Bhavan, Lalit Kala Akademi
Venice Biennale, Italy
1953 Indische Kunst, Rautenstrauch- Joest –Museum, Cologne
Venice Biennale, Italy
1951 Salon de Mai, Paris
1950 Bombay Art Society's Salon, Bombay
1948–56 Group Exhibitions with PAG (Progressive Artists Group)
2004 Meenaxi: Tale of 3 Cities (Director and Writer)
2000 Gaja Gamini (Director, Writer, Actor)
Fiza (Thanks, as M F Husain)
1997 Mohabbat (Actor, as Himself)
1991 Henna (Art Department/Paintings: a tribute to Raj Kapoor, depicting "Henna" in line and color)
1966 Through the Eyes of a Painter (Director and Writer)
2004 Lalit Kala Ratna, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi
1967 Awarded the Golden Berlin Bear for short film 'Through the Eyes of a Painter' (produced
1966), Berlin International Film Festival, Germany
1966 Awarded Padma Shree and Padma Bhushan, Govt. of India.
Husain has received Honorary Doctorates from the following:
Benaras Hindu University
Jamia Millia Islamia
Born in 1967 in Mumbai, Owais Husain received his Bachelors in Art from the Sir J.J. School of Art in 1990. He went on to work at the Kanoria Centre for Visual Arts, Ahmedabad between 1991 and 1992. He has held solo shows and participated in the group show 'Four Young Contemporary Cymroza Art Gallery' Mumbai and Sakshi Gallery, Bangalore in 1993. Since then he has participated in a number of group exhibitions at galleries around Mumbai, and at the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi. Owais has also had an interest in films and has directed two successful films "Gaja Gamini" and "Meenaxi" in collaboration with his wife Reima Husain.
Husain's figurative work over time is characterized by intense figures surrounded by space – almost a situation. These works are marked by strong areas of vibrant color and assured brush strokes, dividing the canvas in interesting ways. There is a quality of narration in his work where the viewer tries to imagine the situation of the figures. His work "dwells on transfixed moments between people and situations".
It is initially surprising then, when some of his work bears the imprint (though only that) of the brilliant and great German painter, Max Beckmann, whose own works were tinged much more often with melancholy. Later, one is reminded of Beckmann's intensity and Owais's own proclamation of admiration for him.
In a recent exhibition catalog, Owais Hussain writes, "The largest struggle we are witnessing today is not between conflicting moral beliefs, between the legal system and individual freedom, between nature and human technology; it is between our inner and outer lives, and our bodies are the area where this belief is being played out. It is the old philosophical 'mind-body' problem coming to a crescendo as an ecological drama where the outcome rests not only upon our realization that the natural physical environment is one and the same as our bodies, but that nature itself is a form of mind".
Owais Husain lives and works in Mumbai.