Maqbool Fida Hussain has passed away. While Indians and art lovers across the globe mourn his death, his exile abroad does raise a few questions. Was it right to condemn a man for his work? Was the exile justified? Was he a closed-door religious fundamentalist? Did his paintings actually depict anti-Hindu sentiments? Or were we just too naive to understand his works of art?
Many considered Hussain to be the Picasso of India â€“ a title, I feel, is absolutely justified. But then, there were other attributions which were hardly flattering. A Hindi monthly published an article headlined â€“ M.F. Husain: A Painter or Butcher. Many of the Hindu activists also called him evil.
There is no doubt that Hussain was a gifted painter. Yet, one cannot deny the questionable nature of some of his actions. Things flared up when he chose to paint deities in the nude in the name of artistic freedom. But again, was this enough to attack and condemn a man so that he had no other option but to flee the country he loved? I think not.
The micro-blogging site Twitter has seen a lot of Tweets in response to Hussain's death. Here is a quick look at some of the Tweets:
Amitabh Bacchan: MF Hussain, artist, painter, friend ... passes away! Sad, very sad! Many of his works and gifts adorn my home...
Vijay Mallaya: Deeply saddened by the passing away of artist genius MF Hussain. The more famous he became the more his humility.
Madhur Bhandarkar: Sad to hear renowned legendary artist M.F.Hussain passes away, RIP !!!
Pritish Nandy: Sad. Very sad. Husain was one of my best friends and I shall miss him deeply. One of the greatest artists of our time.
Barkha Dutt: "If I were forty I would have fought them tooth and nail," said Husain to me, "still saare jahan se acha hindustan hamara". Now That is grace.
Rahul Bose: Hussain passes away. we hang our heads partly in grief & partly in shame for not being able to let him spend his last days in this country.
Omar Abdullah: RIP M.F. Hussain. I'll never forget the privilege of watching you paint in Sanawar all those years ago.
Hussain was a gifted painter, a wannabe film maker, an art collector and a lover of fast cars (he owned a Buggati Veyron) and Indian food. Despite his many achievements, he was a humble human being and I am happy that I got a chance to meet him in person, may he finally find peace in death.