Art community in mourning

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on June 09, 2011 Published on June 09, 2011

For Yamini Telkar, CEO of Delhi Art Gallery, one of the few galleries that had bravely exhibited Husain’s works during his period of exile, despite huge security fears, “Indian art is synonymous with Husain – you cannot take one name without the other.”

“He was a truly versatile artist and whatever the medium he chose, the fluency of language of artistic thought came through,” she says.

Early this year, at the Delhi Art Summit, which was attended by 1.28 lakh visitors, the Delhi Art Gallery had insisted on putting up a few of the great artist’s canvases at the venue - ignoring the security advice, and courting controversy.

“I am glad that Delhi Art Gallery took a strong stance on displaying the Husains,” says Telkar, who personally curated ‘Continuum’, the exhibition which showcased the works of the Progressive Artists’ Group of which Husain became a member in 1948. According to her, the 1960s – which yielded the much loved Horse series and the Spider series – were among Husains’s best periods when it came to paintings.

Meanwhile, as the art community mourned his loss today, there was an undercurrent of anger in the reactions pouring in. “Do Ghaz Zameen Bhi Na Mili Koo-e-Yaar Mein” (Even two yards of land were not to be had, in the land (of the) beloved). This couplet by Bahadur Shah Zafar sums up Husainsaab’s tragic end, said eminent theatre director, Mr M K Raina and a Sahmat member.

“It is sad that an artist, whose contribution to Indian art and civilisation was so phenomenal had to live and die in an alien country.”, added Raina.

Documentary film-maker Sohail Hashmi, elder brother of theatre activist, late Safdar Hashmi, said: “It is a tragedy that a secular state could not stand up to moral policing by a handful of people who had no understanding of art, leading to the exile of this great artist."

Mr Ramachandran said, "Husain was the true Indian artist who was treasured by all of us. He should have been conferred a Bharat Ratna instead of being chased out of the country. My biggest regret today is that we could not get him back to the country he loved."

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Published on June 09, 2011
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