Art genius Husain dies in exile

Art genius Husain dies in exile

India’s very own ‘Picasso’, who earned both fame and wrath for his paintings, died a Qatari citizen at the Royal Brompton Hospital here where he was admitted after being in “indifferent health” for the last one-and-a-half month, family sources said.

The legendary Husain breathed his last at 2:30 am local time (0700 IST) at the age of 95. He was in hospital for a week and died from a heart attack due to water retention and congested lungs.

He will be buried in London on Friday after his son Shamshad arrives here from New Delhi, family sources said.

India’s biggest grosser as a painter with his works fetching astronomical sums in auctions in London and New York, Husain turned away from his homeland in 2006 following a series of legal cases and death threats over his depiction of Hindu goddesses in nude.He accepted Qatari citizenship in 2010 after surrendering his Indian passport.

Husain’s death away from Mumbai, where he started as a painter of Bollywood posters in the 1920s and later went on to achieve iconic status, was symbolic of the controversy that forced him out of India and dogged him to the last.

Though in his last interviews he had expressed his desire to return home to spend the last days of his life, the celebrated artist could never make it back.

Over the years, Husain’s career and success closely mirrored the meteoric rise of contemporary Indian art on the international stage and he became one of the best known Indian artists in the world.

Dividing his time between London and Dubai, Husain would often be seen walking barefoot in Mayfair, striding from his studio to Shepherd Market with a paintbrush in hand.

Born in Pandharpur in Maharashtra on September 17, 1915, Husain’s paintings on goddesses Durga and Saraswati invited the wrath of Hindu groups who attacked his house in 1998 and vandalised his art works.In the wake of legal challenges and death threats in his home country, he had been living abroad since then.

As he had not responded to summons from an Indian district court in Haridwar, a court had ordered his property be attached and a bailable warrant was also issued against him by an Indore court.

But, the Supreme Court stayed both the court orders.
The controversy followed him to London, where an exhibition of his works had to be withdrawn after the Hindu Forum of Britain launched a protest campaign.
Steeped in India’s syncretic traditions, Husain was a Bohra and was well versed in Hindu religious texts.

The news of his death prompted an outpouring of grief in India. Husain had always insisted that his heart remained in India and that “99 per cent” Indians loved him.
Three of Husain’s paintings recently topped a Bonham’s auction, selling for Rs 2.32 crore with an untitled oil work in which the artist combined his iconic subject matters — horse and woman — fetching Rs 1.23 crore alone.

In 1955, he was awarded the Padma Shree. Husain was a special invitee along with Pablo Picasso at the Sao Paulo Biennial in 1971. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1973 and was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 1986. In 1991, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan.

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