Re-reading Husain

An image of Husain’s work published in the book   | Photo Credit: 26dmc husain1

M.F. Husain had a strong connection with Dubai because that’s where he lived apart from London after he was exiled from India in 2006 following threats by right-wing groups which objected to his depiction of Hindu deities. Well, a nomad like him couldn’t be restricted by boundaries and hence belonged to the world. He zipped past on the roads of swanky Dubai in his red Ferrari and lived in a flat in Emaar Towers. One of the major modernists of our country, Husain had a mild heart attack in Dubai and recovered following which he went to London, another city, he frequented. He was hospitalised there and passed away in August 2011.

Stellar International Art Foundation launched “M.F. Husain, The Journey of a Legend” at the ninth edition of Art Dubai which concluded last Saturday, for reasons more than one. Stellar International Art Foundation was established in 2008 and took as its basis the private collection of the Choudhrie family. Based in London and Delhi, Choudhrie family started buying art which resulted in it forming close relationships with artists like Husain.

The book penned by writer and art curator Kishore Singh was first launched at St. Moritz Art Masters in 2014, Switzerland, where his Maria collection was shown in its entirety. It was then at India Art Fair 2015 followed by Art Dubai, where a major exhibition of the works by the artist at the next edition of Art Dubai was also announced. “One of the goals of the Foundation is to re-contextualise Indian contemporary art within a larger art history. It does so through international exhibitions and through the acquisition of Contemporary Western works. It seeks not just to promote the artists within the collection but to create a global platform for Indian Masters, says Valerie C. Whitacre who is art advisor to the foundation, over a skype chat.

She adds that the exhibition will have some major unseen works of Husain on display whose prints might have been seen before.

“The market in Dubai is still a budding one where the impact of new works and new genres to the community influences the tastes, trends, and dialogues across Asian communities. With this in mind, the Foundation sees Dubai as the ideal platform for beginning a serious discussion about contemporary collecting, the value of ‘categorising’ cultures of art and challenging the perceptions of these categories while pursuing it’s concurrent goal of promoting artists from within the collection to the world,” says Valerie.

Their publications, much like the exhibition, further their aim of promoting art. The book which would now be launched in U.K., is a combination of the nearly 300 works by Husain in the Stellar International Art Foundation collection, his biography and his relationship with the Choudhrie family, founders of the Stellar International Art Foundation. “This is the first publication of Foundation showcasing India’s most well and arguably best modern master. The collection is unique in that it has kept many series intact including the famous Maria collection. This publication not only provides new scholarship by Kishore Singh on the artist but also highlights several other works done by him which make this collection so important.”Kishore Singh, Head of Exhibitions and Publications for Delhi Art Gallery, carefully encapsulates his journey in 30 pages that touches upon major milestones of his life. It goes on to include various series that are with the foundation like ‘Ramayana’, ‘Mughal-e-Azam’, ‘Horses’, ‘Mother Teresa’, ‘Our Planet Called Earth’, ‘Gajanama’ etc. It also features his famous ‘Maria Series’ — drawings and paintings, Husain had made over a period of three years in Mumbai and Prague. He gifted it to Maria Jaroslav Zurkova, the translator in Prague he fell in love with. The woman he termed as the “purest” love of his life, returned these works on themes of Indian women, expressionistic studies of Czech landscapes and portraits, to Husain in 2006.

The senior art critic sheds light on this not so well-known aspect of his life. “Kishore had interviewed Husain and to prove that he isn’t making it up, we have used excerpts from the interview,” says Valerie.

The book is not for commercial sale but its limited copies are available at museums, public institutions, auction houses to further the understanding of the artist.

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Printable version | Sep 20, 2021 1:55:02 PM |

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