MF Husain in Dubai

WORLD renowned artist M F Husain is a highly respected figure both in and outside India, his motherland. And, cutting across social barriers, he’s a craze among the artistic and cultural circles, especially in Mumbai, the commercial metropolis that was his field of activity for long years. Under the circumstances, it is most unfortunate that a controversy has been created about some of his paintings and his so-called "exile" in Dubai.

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Published: Fri 2 Mar 2007, 9:39 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 12:58 AM

For his part, and the great artist that he is, Husain is trying his best to downplay the controversy and even the hate mail campaign that interested sections in India have reportedly unleashed against him. Yet, it would have been better if he had been kept out of it all. As for the controversy surrounding some of his recent paintings, it needs to be noted that religion is a sensitive matter for most people. Yet, artists are known to exercise freedom, which is of essence in matters of creativity, and which is generally taken for granted. A free and secular society like India is expected only to urge an artist on, irrespective of his themes. That someone chose to file a case, apparently making matters worse for the artist, was bad enough. Individuals are of many hues, and they cannot altogether be restrained from such harsh reactions, but it is incumbent upon a progressive society to stand united behind the artist and his creative freedom.

If Husain has taken some liberties while drawing pictures of Hindu deities, they should be seen in their right perspective. If some fringe elements have raised a storm over the issue, it’s because their survival rests on such shenanigans. Yet given India’s fabled tolerance, such protests will be no more than a storm in a tea cup. Artists like Husain make India proud, and it should continue to be so. Husain says he is in Dubai because he sees the future here. That’s true too. Without doubt, Husain’s presence will give a new aura to Dubai as the emerging cultural capital of the region.

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