The threats against M.F. Husain are familiar by now. But the Washington Post summarizes the great Indian painter’s travails with the Hindu community without letting India’s cultural elite easily off the hook:
“M.F. Husain has become the symbol of freedom of expression in India today. Intolerance is on the rise, and displaying Husain in India is seen to be unsafe,” said K. Bikram Singh, author of an illustrated biography of Husain. “We say we are a multi-religious, multi-cultural society. But our secular values are hollow.”
The organizers of the India Art Summit said it was too risky to display Husain’s works without police protection against Hindu groups that have vowed to destroy them. “We are not censoring Husain. The problem with displaying his works has been around for some time. We are victims, too,” said Neha Kirpal, associate director of the art fair.
Others don’t feel so bad for Kirpal and the Indian Art Summit organizers:
“It is shameful that the art dealers and galleries that became rich on M.F. Husain for years are so cowardly today,” said Sadanand Menon, an independent cultural critic. “The so-called ‘friends of Husain’ hold tributes occasionally. But the art community, students, writers and the academia are largely silent on this issue.”
A Major Indian Artist Offends Hindus, and Galleries Turn Fearful (Washington Post)