Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Why MF Husain painted Hindu figures (but not Muslim ones) in the nude

By Girish Shahane
Husain’s "Saraswati" is a good illustration of the way modern artists reinvent traditional icons: Its very simplicity makes it a fine exemplar.
MF Husain, India’s most important painter, was the most prominent victim of such malicious re-contexting in India. Before the 1990s, nobody suggested he was insulting the faith. And yet, in his 81st year, Husain was targeted by right-wing Hindu groups for supposedly insulting their faith, a charge that was to hound him till the end of his life, leading ultimately to his leaving the country he cherished. For those who ask why Husain painted Hindu figures naked and not Muslim ones, the answer is simple: he aimed to work with traditions and reconfigure them, and there are no traditions of nude Islamic paintings the way there are of Hindu icons. [link]