“An artist is not anti-social…but needs seclusion and aloneness of mind…a balance between emotions and thought…M. F. Husain had this…the disinterested dispassionate passion toward his art,” said seasoned poet and art critic Keshav Malik here on Saturday while reminiscing about the late M. F. Husain at an exhibition dedicated to the renowned artist on his 97th birth anniversary.
The exhibition of paintings and sculptures by different artists was organised by the All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society at the AIFACS gallery on Rafi Marg to pay homage to Husain who last exhibited his paintings at this gallery back in 1954.
Husain's son Shamshad Husain was the chief guest, but chose not to speak.
Husain, credited with putting Indian modern art on the global map, was forced to spend the last years of his life in exile, away from the country of his birth. The circumstances surrounding his exile have been the topic of much debate ever since his demise.
“There are many celebrations dedicated to Husain in the city on this day, but, without malice or complaint, I feel if some of these celebrations took place while he was alive…he would have been so happy,” said Mr. Malik.
The critic said that he had just attended a presentation on the artist and his various forms of art at Jamia Millia Islamia University.
He added there was something very wrong and offensive with the Indian media holding artists from the West as benchmarks of good art.
“There is something very wrong when Husain is called ‘The Indian Picasso'; he has his own personality, which is unique and different,” he said.
Mr. Malik spoke of the ‘artistic eye' to dwell on how commercialisation of art had started to lead artistes to do paintings based on a signature promoted by galleries instead of following their hearts.
“The artistic eye is what makes us human. We all have this eye, but we need to cultivate our hearts and minds to recognise good art,” he said, adding that the responsibility was also on the artist even though they did not strictly fall into the category of educators.
Husain's friendship with the poet dates back several years and Mr. Malik chose to reminisce about the last time he met the artist before his death.
“I saw him on New Year's Eve and felt that although people can be idolised, they should not be made idols, ” he said, adding that uncritical acceptance of these idols made people unforgiving to any fault that their idol may possess.
“Artists are also human beings and not machines,” Mr. Malik quipped.
The exhibition is slated to remain open up to September 30.