Signed 'Husain' (on the reverse)
Bearing Christie's label and tag (on the back of the frame)
Christie's / Live Auction 1115 / Lot 288 / Indian and Southeast Asian Art including 20th Century Indian / New York / 19 September 2002
Christie's / Live Auction 20585 / Lot 614 / South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art Including Works from the Collection of Mahinder and Sharad Tak / New York / 23 March 2022
Private collection, Dubai
As an Indian icon, Mother Teresa appealed to Husain's sensibilities as an artist, not only for her work with the poor but also for what the religious figure signifies, a notion of a mother. The artist, whose mother passed away during his childhood, associated the saint as a living personification of his own mother and the very idea of motherhood in general.
Seen here as a faceless entity, Husain completely removed any facial features from the portrait and instead depicted the icon in outline, almost imperceptible if not for the robes she donned, a white sari with a broad blue border, accentuating the abstract figure and implying a sense of corporeality in an otherwise abstracted figuration. Although the inside of the robes that hold her presence is shown hollow, she is depicted purportedly ready to reach out to help the destitute into her folds. Wittingly, the garb which Husain highlighted in his interpretations of the subject serves as an apt, albeit abstract metaphor that effectively evokes both the person and the symbolism that she inspires.
The artist states “I have tried to capture in my paintings what her presence meant to the destitute and the dying, the light and hope she brought by mere inquiry, by putting her hand over a child abandoned in the street. I did not cry at this encounter. I returned with so much strength and sadness that it continues to ferment within." (Artist statement, Y. Dalmia, The Making of Modern Indian Art: The Progressives, New York, 2001, p. 116)