Legendary artist M.F. Husain might have accepted the citizenship of Qatar but how does it matter, asks artist Ravi Gossain, an ardent Husain admirer.
The series ‘Husain Par Fida' which was exhibited at Gallery Ragini last year marked my entry into the figurative zone. What triggered it off was a web image of M.F. Husain standing next to his red Ferrari in Dubai daylight. I knew this had to be painted.
It's a complete story on Husain from his lantern and umbrella days up to the front seat of a Ferrari. For Husain at his age the red Ferrari is an obvious choice and you see him radiate exuberance. Husain has always been spontaneous. If there is a flood or a war or a concert or a Devdas he has painted it on the spot. He will not let the stimulus bypass him without his comment. He is immediate in his reaction to condense the stimuli as an artist.
When I did this body of work, the series on Husain just evolved in a flow and I felt the symbolic figure of Husain as most striking and potent. The work was just a tribute to his extremely colourful life. It's interesting to note how this particular work ‘Husain Under MRI Scanner' has become relevant now.
Here again to put Husain in an MRI scan machine itself is a complex visual. It evokes complex response. You can scan the body for faults but you cannot scan the spirit. His spirit is in a different domain. He is holding on to his connection with the spirit or the ultimate source. The connection is firm. The signal on the monitor is full of colour spectrum – chromo graph. Spirit is in full bloom.
Intensity and conviction
Another thought behind the work was to say that we need to treat his process with tender care like a helpless person in ICU. He has painted with intensity and conviction all his life.
We have to treat his art process in its historical context. In fact pre-independence Indian art starts in early 1920s and immediately after 1950s comes the firm entry of Husain, who was going to dominate the Indian art scene for the next clean 50 years and till today he has been the benchmark for Indian art price positions and has positively carved out the segment of Indian modern art on a grand scale.
His spirited gift takes him to diverse territories producing almost 20,000 paintings in a bout of ecstasy. He would paint sitting in a dhaba, in Jama Masjid or on stage making it a full performance or the walls of hundreds of homes as a track record of his folk touch to his art and inhibited live performances. He matches it with a lifestyle and transitory persona who would travel with brushes and camera all the time. Husain would move barefooted at airports and hotel lobbies or in the crowds he could be easily spotted as a man possessed or a moving spirit.No artist other than Husain was fit to take up enormous series of paintings on epics like “Ramayan” or “Mahabharat” and such projects which took him to the core of his Indianness and depths of the flux of its culture. It is his sheer creative energy at its best or in his speedy horses to match his exuberance and power which seems to flow from a different world. All the sciences and arts are based on a process and it seems to evolve gradually with time. This is human evolution and it goes on as per nature's programme. It seems to me that nature does not play dice. This must be one of nature's secret as it follows a plan unknown to us. Even the question why we are here? I feel this question is not yet resolved by a simple answer so far.Fine art also is a language on an active move for last 300 years. It's a well connected growth. All masters came to contribute the language at different times in a logical programme coded by the showering of sensibilities in human growth by secret nature. Masters like Husain are positive contributors to this language. By devoting a lifetime the language is enhanced. For vibrancy of form , power of line, solid colour, resonance of strokes, direct application of intent with spontaneity of movement are some of his typical forte which he has so naturally woven with the equations of his art.Today he is at a point where probably he is in a position to make the money dance for him as an ultimate mockery of maya in the hands of an artist who redefines wealth with an invaluable gift.
(An alumnus of IIT Kanpur, Ravi Gossain turned artist years ago. Above published work has been taken from a series of life-size canvases he made on the maestro last year just before the India Art Summit.)