Now, MF Husain, Raza on carpets
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His spirit refuses to cave in to age. India's tallest contemporary
artist M.F. Husain turned 95 Friday, still on the job of making
high art. The artist is set to make a splash in his adopted
homeland Doha with a sound installation of four life-size Murano
glass horses and his flashy racing cars.
Husain, keen to return to India
which he left in 2006, is hyperactive, creative and sprightly as
ever, say friends in the capital, who are constantly in touch with
Composer A.R. Rahman is setting the music for the multi-media art
work by the maverick artist, who owns at least 12 racers.
Husain is also paying a tribute to the glorious history of
Bollywood - the tinsel city that shot him to fame - with a large
mural-format series in canvas on the history of Indian cinema -
right from the days of Dadasaheb Phalke.
"Husain wants to return home, but the situation is such that it is
not possible for him to come back. He did not want to leave,
circumstances forced him. It is a terrible thing to have happened
to a man as active and spirited as him," well-known artist,
designer and photographer Ram Rahman told IANS.
Rahman said Husain was working round-the-clock.
"He is full of unbelievable energy at 95. He is currently making a
sound installation of four life-size Murano glass horses that will
be placed along side his fleet of racing cars in a giant solid art
composition. He has recorded the engine sounds of the vehicle and
asked composer A.R. Rahman to create a soundtrack for the
installation from the tape," Rahman said.
Husain is right now in London, supervising the sculptures of
horses in Venice.
Born Sep 17, 1915 in Pandharpur in Madhya Pradesh, Husain moved to
Mumbai at the age of 20 to study at the J.J. College of Art. He
supported himself and family by painting cinema posters in the
1940s and 1950s.
"We were paid barely four or six annas per square foot. That is -
for a 6X10 feet canvas, we earned a few rupees. Apart from the New
Theatre, others did not pay us at all," the artist recalled in his
The artist relocated to the United Arab Emirates in 2006 in
self-imposed exile after rightwing Hindu groups in the country
objected to "offensive portrayal of Hindu deities in his art".
It led to several legal suits against him.
In March, the artist surrendered his Indian passport and accepted
citizenship of Doha that the Sheikh (ruler) and his wife offered
to him as a gesture of appreciation of his work. He was
commissioned to make several high-value art pieces for the Doha
While the artist completes one more commissioned work for Doha,
the Indian capital was Friday also paying him a colourful tribute.
A series of paintings, "Husain ki kahani-hamari zubaani" (Husain's
life in our words), is giving a new meaning to his life on his
More than 100 students of the fine arts department of Jamia Millia
Islamia Centre for Learning will paint footages of Husain's life
in a series inspired by the artist's autobiography in Hindi, "Husain
ki kahani, Apni Zubaani" at the M.F. Husain Gallery in Jamia
The project is a collaboration between SAHMAT and the institute.
A photo-booth with a cutout of Husain, designed like the old
studios of the 1970s is providing his fans an opportunity to be
photographed with the icon - who has carried Indian contemporary
art across the world.
The photographs will be presented to him by Rahman at the Museum
of Islamic Art in Doha Sep 22.
The outpouring love, praise and admiration for the artist was
spontaneous at the gallery.
Old fans miss him in India.
"M.F. Husain is still the greatest Indian artist. At 95, he needs
to come home. What has happened to him is a tragedy perpetrated by
a miniscule of rabble rousing culturally defunct people, who are
known to create such phenomenon. Art is after all art, some one
has to buy it," yesteryear actress and social activist Nafisa Ali