Maqbool Fida Husain (b. 1915)
Painting billboards for feature films and making furniture designs and toys was
Husain’s first job. He earned a living with this alright, but the artist in him soon burst
forth in brilliant form and color and variety. Today, he is practically synonymous
with contemporary Indian art. A self-taught artist, he came to Mumbai in 1937,
determined to become a painter. In 1948, he was invited by F.N. Souza to join the
Progressive Artist’s Group, a group that was exploring a new idiom for Indian art.
In his work, he referred often to themes that blended folk, tribal and mythological
art to create vibrantly modern living art forms. He depicts the icons of Indian
culture, through the ages, seeking to capture the quintessence of his subjects, like
Mother Teresa, Lord Krishna and the Goddess Saraswati. In 1952, his first solo
exhibition was held at Zürich and over the next few years, his work was widely
seen in Europe and U.S.A. His rise as a public figure has been sustained and often
controversial, but his prodigious creativity has never ceased to surprise.
Husain’s art extended to feature films, such as “Through the Eyes of a Painter”,
in 1967, which was a Golden Bear Award winner at the Berlin Film Festival, and
“Gajagamini” in 2000. The Government of India honored him with the Padma
Bhushan and the Padma Vibhushan awards. He has also received the coveted Raja
Ravi Varma award. Husain went on to become one of India’s highest paid painters.
Today, he lives in self-imposed exile in Qatar, UAE.

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