[intro] The Bitter Attacks on India’s Greatest Talent Cast a Shadow Over Fair [/intro]
M.F. Husain is India’s Picasso, a long-lived and prolific artist who has defined modern Indian art through the breadth and quality of his work. But such is the nature of Indian cultural politics that Husain is also a lightning rod for Hindu fundamentalists who object to his having depicted their goddesses nude. The issue comes to a dramatic point at the Indian Art Summit, a large art fair of 700 artists represented by 54 galleries from 11 countries, that is meant to showcase and promote Indian art. Many, including the artist’s son, wonder how India can expect to hold its premier art fair on August 19th without work from its greatest name. Here’s the Hindu:
Shamsahad Husain, son of legendary artist M.F. Husain, has objected to the exclusion of his father’s works from the annual art fair. Mr. Shamsahad Husain was not happy that the works were not displayed. “Look what they have done to my father. They could not even bring his works and none of the galleries taking part in the Fair has taken a stand,” he said. […]
A statement by the organisers on Sunday said: “While we acknowledge the lifelong achievements and the iconic status of artists like M.F. Husain in Indian art, we are unable to put the entire collective concern at risk by showcasing artists who have, in the past, been received with hostility by certain sections of the society unless we receive protection from the government and the Delhi police.”
The Telegraph of India presents some of the frustration of Indian artists:
Exhibitions featuring works of the 93-year-old artist, who now lives abroad in self-imposed exile, had in the past come under attack from fundamentalists in several states.
Last year, too, when cultural group Sahmat held an exhibition of Husain’s works at India International Centre as a gesture of solidarity after the Summit cried off, some vandals tried to disrupt the show despite the presence of Delhi police personnel. […]
But Sahmat member and photographer Ram Rahman said the Summit had “one full year” to figure out what to do about security. “This is no excuse. As the organiser, its job is to ensure security. If it can’t, it shouldn’t hold the exhibition at all. Husain is neither banned by the government nor is he a criminal. We cannot allow hoodlums to control our life and business.”
The Times of India, however, points out that the artist himself is quite resigned to the situation:
‘‘My struggle has been going on for last 15 years. There are over 800 cases against me and only one of them has reached some resolution in SC. I totally understand that without the support of the state and complete police protection, it is impossible to show my art in the fair,’’ Husain said.
Son Decries Exclusion of Husain’s Work from Fair (Hindu.com)
Husain is to ‘Risky’ for Capital Fair (TelegraphIndia.com)
Art Summit Not to Display Husain Paintings (Times of India)