Sunday, 25 March 2012

Translation Editing by Pankaja J K


 M.F.Husain was a legend and legend doesn't die, he gets transformed into things he had intimately accustomed with during his life time.

The particular body which we associate with Husain was his I-Card, his habitat and a vehicle of conveyance i.e his body which was fit and fine until a few days before his demise. . Whenever I had come across him I observed that he was never in his body but with his body, utilizing it as an instrument of prime importance. The reason might be, that he knew that God had gifted him such a beautiful and long lasting natural vehicle bearing wings of imagination so that it could help him to fly very high where others wouldn't even dare to dream.
(copyright photograph by @Tathi Premchand)
Along with the vehicle God also gave him the key which was, the liberty to operate himself. He had taken every care to maintain the vehicle and the key with discipline and good lifestyle. But on 8th June 2011 at an unfortunate moment he forgot the key inside his prestigious vehicle and locked himself out eternally. That unexpected tragedy forced him to leave the body forever. But naturally his physical existence became eternal and then he spiritually migrated to his most sought-after things that include the nation he belonged to as his birth right, floated in the memory of his father, mother and his wife, his prospering children, grand and great-grand children, people he loved and people who loved him. He left his memories in his paintings and his tools. His future always brought to him challenges and his exotic dreams that he saw with closed eyes and broad intellect.

His field of association was so vast that his process of spiritual migration must be still on. For him it must be like a pilgrimage which I believe will continue further perpetually on a more intensive level on coming auspicious day known as ASHADI EKADASHI in Pandharpur where he was born.  He had been very dearly associated with his childhood memories of this place. Thus his voyage will complete its first round and will begin the next one, and then the next one and next one and so on till the human beings and their creativity exist on earth.

This is the time to remember his contribution, (and not the controversies).
And therefore I would like to share briefly with you my personal studies cum observations about him and his work right from my student-days till today.

In sixties and seventies of the last century , beside Jehangir Art Gallery there were only four galleries in Mumbai, Chemould, Pundole, Chetna and Taj Mahal Hotel The number of artists were also less and amongst them the prominent presence of Husain could be felt everywhere in the art field. Husain was well known then as he is today and surely will remain in future too.  Why is it so? I asked myself and the answer that I inferred was that, while doing his own work he has worked silently and endeavoring some reformation in the art field. Very few must have noticed it. He never announce publicly how he is going to do it, proclamation was never a part of his self esteemed nature because as we all know he was a man of few but appropriate words. To serve the art and art-field he did not form any group or organization or a movement but walked all alone with utmost desire holding close to his heart, mind and soul and applied his sense of social awareness, organizational skill as well as the capacity to activate it impressively to best possible extend.

If you observe and analyze the phases of his work and journey as a social being you will realize that what so ever he did, apparently seemed benefitting himself but in reality, it also benefitted painting artist community in particular and art field in general. On the contrary his life and works reflect the extent to which he sacrificed himself to uplift the Indian art. Let me prove it by describing briefly the changes he introduced through his work attributing to bridging the gap between artists, their art and public.

If you remember his work from fifties when art was not a public affair but limited to elite class of the society, you will notice that even during those days he had pure passion for art and art alone. He was painting for art sake. It was appreciated by few connoisseurs who would sometimes buy it for their personal collections. But very soon he realized that this would not help art and artists’community in true sense and therefore he must have decided in his heart to take art to the public at large.

By that time his other major companions, Raza, Souza and Bakare, from the Progressive Group had left India and settled abroad. Had all the progressives stayed here, their presence would have laid the foundation for the culture of art in our country. (In Europe the inventors of isms and movements did not leave their establishments which has helped their culture of art get rooted in the very soil that proudly upholds their contribution for many centuries) The history of modern Indian Art would have remained on the lips of the public and not buried in the history which after fifty years is excavated in pieces with wrong motivations.  So Husain alone took the responsibility to lay such foundation without proclaiming it, and since then his work, his approach, his behavior in the public changed. He painted horses; he painted generic subjects, even marriage cards and wooden toys; but of course, not in a traditional manner but with a conviction and style adopted by Progressives.

Nothing was forbidden to him. His fingers always fleeted and his eyes were sharp and penetrative. He had known the magic of becoming one with the matter he perceived. He used to invent new methods, mediums and subjects that would create sensation in the public. In seventies a devastating cyclone occurred in Andhra Pradesh and he took a giant emotional leap to go closer to Indian people. He exhibited brilliant paintings which had made a lasting impact on Indian mind and it had served his purpose of making art communicate with masses to some extent.

Then came the period of Emergency and he openly supported the then Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi by painting three huge canvases dedicated to her vision and spirit. By then he was already in the lime -light but this venture of his put him under constant focus.

(copyright photograph by @Tathi Premchand)
Later on he did many experiments with his art and environments, carried on stunts in the public places like walking bare-feet which at one time prohibited him from entering a five star hotel, white- washed his own works thus, astonishing the public. When hunters were killing wild animals he tried to save them in the form of his painting. He kept giving exotic interviews from time to time which would lead to gossiping. Then onwards he constantly remained in the news. He did everything he could do and all that lead to attracting masses to his art and art of others too. But frankly speaking, his vision for classical art and passionate involvement in his personal idiom suffered a setback. He became a popular artist of the masses. Today almost every Indian knows him.

This man of conviction and commitment could have easily worked just for himself and produced comparatively less number of works and enjoyed the coveted place of a genius. He himself knew it and that is why a few years back, while commenting on Gaitonde he said "Gai is genius, I am just popular." This very statement is also sufficient to prove that only genius can recognize another genius. But genius of Husain preferred to be popular aiming to make art popular which has ultimately helped other artists and their art to become popular.

I also know that Husain had taken with him buyers to art exhibitions of young artists and convinced them to buy artworks. It will take time for us to realize what we would greatly miss without him today onward and what we didn't realize during his lifetime.

Today we see that large numbers of appreciators are attracted towards art in the country, it’s mainly due to him and this is the worthless contribution of an one man army called Husain.

An artist who began his passionate journey in art by painting cinema posters and raised himself to the status of a legend.
I am fortunate to meet him on several occasions and witness him painting and watching his brilliant work in my life time.

I salute him from the very core of my heart!


- Prabhakar Kolte


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Thanks for comment JK