Maqbool Fida Husain, popularly known as M F Husain, is said to have created around 60,000 paintings in his lifetime which covered diverse topics such as Mother Teresa, Gandhi, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, motifs of urban and rural India, and even the British colonization.
M.F.Hussain, 'The Picasso of India', as claimed by Forbes magazine, could make his paintings 'speak', expressing ideas and concepts with as little as a few strokes of a pencil. He put together themes from mythology and Indian ethnicity to create artwork that can be remembered forever.
The maestro died in 2011 when he was 95. Today India’s contemporary artist Shantala Palat shares some of the interesting things which you probably didn’t know before.
1. M.F. Husain never wore shoes. He said, “It’s good for my knees, which means I can sit on the floor and paint for four or five hours.”
2. Husain started his career in painting by making cinema hoardings in 1935 when he first came to Mumbai to become a movie director.
3. The artist worked with a toy company making and designing toys to earn few extra money. Husain's love for painting grew only after he learned the art of calligraphy. After recognizing Husain's talent, his father got him an apprenticeship with a tailor and later a draughtsman, encouraging him to develop his painting technique.
4. Husain got recognition in his late 40's when he associated himself as a founding member of the Bombay Progressive Artists' Group. Husain's first solo exhibition was held in 1952 in Zurich.
5. The famous artist was awarded Padma Shri in 1966, Padma Bhushan in 1973 and Padma Vibhushan in 1991. He was also nominated as a Rajya Sabha Member in 1986.
6. Husain was a special invitee along with Pablo Picasso at the Sao Paulo Biennial (Brazil) in 1971
7. Jamia Millia Islamia University’s famous M.F. Husain Art Gallery was named after him.
8. During his final phases of his career, M.F.Hussain drew ire and fury of the Hindu radicals for painting nude depictions of the Hindu deities, particularly of Sita and Hanuman. Hussain soon saw himself virtually banished from India as his exhibitions and paintings were repeatedly attacked and vandalized. Husain spent his final years in Qatar and died in London. It was said that he left India due to lack of freedom of expression, though M.F. Husain denied it till the end of his life and continued to paint his love for India through his artwork.