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Lot Details

Signed in English and Devanagari (on the reverse)
Inscribed '101 x 152' (on the reverse)
Bearing 'Hamish Dewar Fine Art Conservation' label (on the stretcher)

Acquired directly from the artist
Private collection, Italy
Saffronart / Lot 9 / Summer Online Auction / 10-11 June 2015
Private collection, London

Producing works that are rooted in Indian sensibility, Maqbool Fida Husain made use of his country's deep repertory of symbols by depicting them into his works and cultivating a visual vocabulary ripe with metaphor and meaning. His symbolism ranged from the literal representation of cultural icons like Mother Teresa and Gandhi, allegorical masterpieces with narrative borrowed from the great epics, the cinema, and traditional folk elements. He made use of these remarkably common symbols and employed them profoundly, oftentimes bordering on the mystical.

Here, Husain uses one of his recurring motifs of animals. Portrayed in dynamic and energetic strokes and teeming with associated meaning and a plethora of references. Depicting the figures in sharp lines, the animal forms appear frenzied, exuding palpable power and movement. The hand gesturing a mudra gives corporeality to an otherwise intangible presence while consequently asserting Husain's very own brand of symbolism.

A brilliant colorist, Husain devised a unique color scheme heightening the imagery and lending depth and vibrance to his work. The deliberate use of bold, thick lines provides his figures motion and potency while emphasizing the economy of his lines as an integral part of his genius. The artist posits: "Line is a virile force with keen latent mobility, which despite being imperceptible in nature, is constantly striving to assert itself." (As quoted in Yashodhara Dalmia, The Making of Modern Indian Art: The Progressives).

Maqbool Fida Husain

(1915 - 2011)
Born in Pandharpur, Maharashtra, in 1915, Husain moved to Mumbai in 1937 where he sustained himself by painting cinema hoardings and designing furniture and toys. A self-taught artist, Husain was invited to join the Progressive Artists Group in 1947 by F.N. Souza after his first public exhibition of paintings. Most recently, his work has been featured in solo shows including ‘M.F. Husain: Early Masterpieces 1950s-1970s at the David Winton Bell Gallery, Providence in 2010; ‘Epic India’ at the peabody Essex Museum, Salem, in 2006-07; and ‘Early Masterpieces 1950-70s, at Asia House Gallery, London, in 2006. Husain was nominated to the Rajya Sabha, India’s Upper House of Parliament in 1986-92, during which he pictorially recorded its events, which were then published in 1994. The Government of India awarded him with a Padma Shri in 1966, a Padma Bhushan in 1973 and Padma Vibhushan in 1991, all high civilian honours. In 1971, Husain was invited to exhibit as a special invitee with Pablo Picasso at the Sao Paulo Biennale, Brazil. In 2004, he was awarded the Lalit Kala Ratna by the Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi. Husian passed away in London in 2011.