Friends, Fellow Artists Recall Late Artist M.F. Husain

New Delhi
Friends, Fellow Artists Recall Late Artist M.F. Husain

When the late painter M F Husain was asked by good friend and fellow painter Ram Kumar whether he regretted not coming back to India from his self imposed exile the veteran artist gave a poignant reply.

"You talk about regret. I feel like going atop a building and jumping."

Friends, artists gallery owners and admirers of the late artist gathered at a poetry recital function held at Dhoomimal Art Gallery here late last evening to celebrate the 100th birth anniversary of the modernist painter.

Shamshad Husain, the son of the veteran artist was the chief guest at the occasion which saw many young poets reciting several poems on Husain.

Fellow Progressive artist Krishen Khanna used the occasion to look back at a friendship that dated back to days when Husain used to work in a carpenter's shop.

"I remember he once borrowed a book from me and misplaced it. In return, he offered me a painting and the transaction was a real benefit to me because the book was never that good," Khanna reminisced.

"There is so much to talk about Husain the poet, Husain the filmmaker and Husain the painter we all admire. I remember on my last day at the bank where I was employed, he along with other friends were waited for me to get out of the place. Once I came out, he took away the tie I was wearing stating I had no more use of it."

Khanna also recited a poem penned by Husain titled "Send me a snow clad sheet of sky."

Another prominent artist, Arpana Caur who has created a tribute to Husain, an installation titled "Do gaz zameen bhi na mili koo-e-yaar mein" at the Lalit Kala Akademi here recalled that the late artist used to encourage young talent.

"At my first ever show in Mumbai he bought the first painting. I was flattered. When I visited his museum in Bangalore and saw the work hanging there among works by other artists like Ram Kumar. It was a great feeling," says Caur.

Caur also recited poems that Husain had written especially his relationship with his mother whose death he never got over.

Senior art critic, writer and poet Suneet Chopra recited one of his new poems at the event. Titled 'A Conversation with Husain' the poem is based on a talk that Chopra had with Husain over keema curry and chapati. Chopra says only during the process of writing the poem did he realise the import of the conversation. 

Artist and sculptor Jatin Das also recited a poem recalling Husain's life in Delhi and their camaraderie when they shared meals. A selection of poems by Octavio Paz, F N Souza and J Swaminathan was also recited by various poets including several young poets Soumitra Mohan, Uday Prakash and Rashmi Bhardwaj and Krishna Kalpit.

Khanna recalled Husain's quality of befriending everyone and making them special.

"He had this unique quality of befriending everyone and making them feel like his special friend," Khanna said.

"Husain sahib was a wonderful person and full of life. Whenever I met him, he always made me very comfortable. He was a very tremendous artist and a very versatile person," Uma Jain, Owner Dhoomimal Gallery said.

Vinod Bhardhwaj, who curated the event said he was sad that organisations associated with Husain had not shown any interest on celebrating his centenary.

"Love for my father is eternal. According to the Muslim calendar, we last celebrated his birth centenary in Doha in 2011, but according to English calendar which everyone follows his birth centenary happens to be this year on September 17" Shamshad said.

Uday Jain, from Dhoomimal Gallery, the venue of the event spoke of the artist as the "single most responsible person for the popularisation of Indian Modern Art."

"The name synonym with Indian art M F Husain is the single most responsible person for the popularisation of Indian Modern Art. Be it creating a record of watching the film Hum Aapke Hain Kaun and subsequently creating a whole series with the actress Madhuri Dixit or walking barefoot all around the city, his ways sometime controversial always created buzz," he said.

"The journey started by painting film posters in Bombay, when he was discovered by F N Souza and introduced in the Progressive Artist Group (PAG) and subsequently became the most popular name in Indian Art. The connoisseurs might regard Souza or Raza or Tyeb as icons but for the common man M F Husain will always remain the most relevant name in Indian Art," Jain said.

Born in Pandharpur, in Maharashtra, Husain had passed away on June 9 in the year 2011.

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