Maqbool Fida Husain is back in the news. Last Friday, his paintings on display at the Delhi Art Gallery were removed, before the India Art Summit opened to the public, but were surprisingly put back on display the very next day. The confusion was attributed to security threats.
Husain chose to remain an Indian for 95 years,. From painting cinema hoardings, he went on to become one of India’s highest paid painters. He was nominated to the Rajya Sabha, and was conferred the Padmasree, Padma Bhushan, and Padma Vibhushan.
In his insatiable hunger for fame and wealth, the painter turned to indecent portrayal of Hindu Gods, hurting the sentiments of millions. Disregarding this, when the Kerala government chose to honour him with the ‘Raja Ravi Varma’ award, a member of the erstwhile Royal family termed the decision as tantamount to ‘promoting pornographic art’.
Having heinously trudged ‘barefoot’ the huge canvas of freedom, tolerance, and permissiveness, the painter fled the country. He has now surrendered his Indian passport, and has courted the citizenship of a conservative state in the Arabian Gulf.
The obvious question anyone will ask is, having merrily desecrated the hallowed precincts of artistic creativity, social etiquette and common decency through perverted portrayal of the deities of his country of birth, will he paint anything that even remotely offends his religion of birth?
Certainly no! The painter is well aware of the consequences of the dreaded fatwa, which novelist Salman Rushdie, and more recently, Taslima Nasreen the Bangladeshi writer faced.
Let us hope, he drops the palette and the brush, and turns to the Almighty in penitence.