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Birthday gift for Husain a big draw at Jamia

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Special show: Visitors at the exhibition for ‘M.F.Husain at 94’ at Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Special show: Visitors at the exhibition for ‘M.F.Husain at 94’ at Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Parul Sharma

NEW DELHI: A tribute to one of the greatest Indian painters of all time, M. F. Husain, by established artists and students in the form of an exhibition at Jamia Millia Islamia here has been receiving a positive response from the viewers.

The exhibition, “For Husain at 94”, was unveiled during a special event organised by the Outreach Programme of Jamia in association with the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT) this past week celebrating Husain’s 94th birthday.

The exhibition that has been mounted at the M. F. Husain Gallery on the Jamia campus comprises over 20 works by students of the Art Department at the University and Delhi College of Art, and more than 90 exhibits by some eminent artists like Anjolie Ela Menon, Arpana Caur and Vivan Sundaram, to name a few.

“Most of these works are for Husain. On his 94th birthday, we asked the artists to come together in this project to make or contribute an art work as their gift to Husain. Through their art works they have demonstrated in what way they relate to Husain,” says Rajan Prasad, who is associated with SAHMAT.

The exhibits include paintings, photographs, letters and poetry – all presented as a “gift” to the painter who has been living abroad for the past few years now.

“For the artists’ community in India, the predicament that M. F. Husain finds himself in evokes many emotions -- disbelief, anger, fear, puzzlement and indignation. For a culture that venerates age, it is shocking that we have allowed this 94-year-old to be hounded out of his home and his matrubhoomi,” writes artist Ram Rahman in a publication brought out by the SAHMAT that was unveiled by Jamia Vice-Chancellor Najeeb Jung last Thursday.

The exhibition, he points out, “is, in a way, a creative protest against those who blaspheme Husain’s art. It is also a celebration -- of his work, ideals, history, and of the man himself.

“The little book, presented to Husain from all of us is a reminder that the artists’ community holds him in reverence and affection, and no cynical politics can ever change that,” says Rahman.

Since 1996 SAHMAT has mobilised the artists’ fraternity on several occasions, and in various forms, in defending Husain.

Protest marches, letter campaigns, meetings with political leaders and a petition to award Husain the Bharat Ratna -- the country’s highest civilian -- being some of them.

The exhibition is open up to this Thursday (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.).

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