Updated: June 9, 2012 22:46 IST

M.F. Husain's personal diary proves he had a way with words too

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M.F.Husain. Photo:nSandeep Saxena
M.F.Husain. Photo:nSandeep Saxena

Friends, artists pay tribute to legend on his first anniversary

One year after he passed away, legendary artist Maqbool Fida Husain was remembered by friends and well wishers through commemorative programmes.

The celebrated modern Indian artist, Husain, who died at the age of 95 on June 9, 2011 had over the years accumulated a wealth of thoughts in a diary using the elaborate technique of calligraphy.

“The diary was found in the personal collection of Hindi author Krishna Baldev Vaid. What better occasion than this to remember the great painter,” says Sanjeev Kumar Choube, manager of the Raza Foundation, which held a commemorative event here late on Friday evening. Artists Kishen Khanna and S.H. Raza were among those who paid tributes.

Both Khanna and Raza were contemporaries of the late painter and belonged to the Progressive Artists' Group in Mumbai of which Husain was an early member.

The personal diary which the painter titled “Harf va Naksh” contains poetry, unsent letters, some abstract sketches and other jottings in English, Hindi and Urdu.

“I met Husain in 1949 in Bombay. He was a man of few words and hardly spoke English. He would make me recite English poetry but would refrain from doing so himself. He never considered himself a writer and his writings much like his paintings can be interpreted in so many different ways. He leaves the meaning hanging in midair,” Khanna told PTI.

Citing his 1956 painting “Between the Spider and the Lamp” Khanna says: “The work which signifies a lurking implication behind it. Husain had the knack to visualise images vividly not just in his paintings but also his writings.”

Khanna, who lives here, says: “There is not a day that goes by that I don't remember Husain. Our friendship began when he lost the book that I had lent him and as compensation gifted me a painting. I remember I sold one of his paintings for Rs. 250 and opened his first bank account,” he adds.

Art critic Prayag Shukla recounted how Husain had given an autograph to his daughter. “My daughter spotted him sitting quietly, eating dinner at a function and she could not contain her enthusiasm. Before I knew it she was pestering him for an autograph. Without the slightest hesitation, he put down his plate and deftly drew a sketch of a horse, delighting her,” he says.

The versatile artist had been engaged in printmaking, filmmaking and photography and as a member of the Progressive Artists' Group, he played a pivotal role in shaping the Indian avant-garde movement and making it known worldwide.

Shahnaz Husain, entrepreneur and CEO of cosmetic giant Shahnaz Herbals remembers Husain as “a dear friend and a good human being.”

“My most prized possession is M.F. Husain's painting of me. He depicted me as a Mughal Empress and said, ‘This is my impression of you...the way I perceive you.' The portrait is very close to my heart and I know I will treasure it eternally,” she added.

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I had the privilege of escorting MFH when he was awarded honorary doctorate by Mysore University in Feb. 1978. I still remember how I taught him writing his name in Kannada and he forgot the last letter while writing his name at the end of a painting of Murugan he did on the stage. He was searching me all over. Standing at a corner of Crawford Hall I showed him the last letter by raising my hand. He finished his signature much to the applause of the audience. Before returning to Bangalore he asked me what I wanted from him and asked me to give a plain paper. He drew his most favorite theme horse with a paw on the seat and explained to me the meaning of that sketch. I am still holding that sketch as a prized possession by me.

from:  H. Baig
Posted on: Jun 10, 2012 at 15:49 IST
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