No Husain show again at mega art event

Art Summit


As the country gears up for its annual art fair, India Art Summit on August 19-22, the name missing from the summit rolls is of self-exiled Maqbool Fida Husain.

For the second time in a row, the summit has failed to bring India’s best known face in international art to the three-day fair.

“I am in no way involved with the India Art Summit. Look what they have done to my father. They could not even bring his works and none of the galleries taking part in the fair has taken a stand,” Shamshad Husain, the Delhi-based son of the legendary artist, said.

The India Art Summit 2009, launched last year, will bring 54 galleries — including 17 international ones from 11 countries — with accompanying trade and educational sessions on art spread over four days.

A statement by the organisers of the India Art Summit said, “While we acknowledge the lifelong achievements and the iconic status of artists like MF Husain in Indian art, we are unable to put the entire collective concern at risk by showcasing artists who have in the past been received with hostility by certain sections of the society unless we recieve protection from government and the Delhi police.”

Last year too, the art summit could not get Husain’s works to the fair, citing security threat in the light of the pending cases against him, despite demands by the artistic fraternity.

Husain left India in 2006 after rightwing Hindu outfits threatened him for having painted Hindu goddesses in the nude and a non-bailable warrant was issued against him. He now spends his time between his Dubai and London homes.

For the last four years, Husain has not exhibited his works in the country. In 2008, Sahmat had exhibited reproductions of his works.

The 94-year-old artist reportedly shrugged off his exclusion from India’s biggest art show, saying, “It is all part of a 15-year-struggle.”

The younger Husain, however, said there was no legal hassle in bringing his father’s works to India. “Only the fanactics might create trouble.”

Earlier in an interview, Sunil Gautam,  the organiser of the India Art Summit, had said that the summit did not “want to court any controversy or pose any threat to Husain’s expensive works because of the delicate sentiments involved.”

“My father is tired of speaking to the media and people, clarifying himself. He actually does not care and that is why he left India,” Shamshad Husain rued.

MF Husain told the organisers of the India Art Summit this week, “My struggle has been going on for the last 15 years and with over 800 cases, only one has reached some resolution in the Supreme Court. I completely understand the situation,” the artist said.

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