Friday, June 10, 2011

Not reasonable to equate Late M.F. Hussain with Picasso or Ravi Varma

Media's hagiographic tendencies go on a prowl whenever a celebrity passes away. Not that celebrities do not have great merits and saintly qualities. But, they are also human beings with human qualities like greed, mis-perceptions, prejudices, love and hate emotions.

Passing away of Mr. M.F. Hussain, a renowned painter of India. He was a great artist, no doubt, in his own right.

I made a Google search on the number of pages which compared Late Hussain to Picasso. There were 493,000 results.

My observationsIt may be true that Late Hussain was a special invitee to an International Conference in which Picasso was also a special invitee. Equating people is often an abstract affair. No two artists can be equal.

Some newspapers have compared him to Raja Ravi Varma, another great painter from India.

My Observations:Raja Ravi Varma had a great reputation of bringing alive the Hindu Gods to the picture frames, who were till then mostly confined to temple-idols or bronze or stone statues. A Hindu meditating on Hindu God often ends up getting a picture of Ravi Varma's painting on the mental screen. Post-Ravi Varma Indian Painters improved upon the forms presented by Varma and made them to appear as aesthetic objects representing 'sathyam (truth), 'sivam (auspicious)' and 'sundaram (beautiful)'.

Hussain, on the other hand, depicted Hindu Gods and Goddesses in nudes or in ugly postures. He had deliberately or unwittingly hurt the sentiments of Hindus.

Consequently Hindu zealots started chasing him and he had to retreat to Gulf and the ultimate asylum the United Kingdom. A brief explanation and a small apology would have been sufficient for him to avoid all the controversy, embarrassment and litigation.

He, instead, preferred the route of getting support- both monetary and otherwise- from the intolerant Islamic Gulf Regimes.

It is an irony that Government of India selected this Ravi Varma's un-doer Late M.F. Hussain to receive the award instituted to commemmorate Ravi Varma.

Hussain was essentially a painter of the commerce genre. He knew how to get exhibitions of his works organised. He knew how to sell his paintings at astronomical sums to crazy western and Islamic art collectors.

Appreciating or criticising modern paint works is an abstract and subjective activity. But I must say that, whenever I see Late Hussain's paintings, I do not get any aesthetic joy, a joy greater than that I get from looking at the paintings of late Devi Prasad Roy Chowdhury or Damerla Rama Rao or Vaddadi Papaiah or even Chitta Prasad. Their painting approaches, styles and techniques may vary. But they are as proficient as Hussain and there is nothing to justify placing somebody above and somebody below.

Every one of these should be equal to Picasso if a comparison with Picasso or Ravi Varma is unavoidable.

I beg you to differ with me. It is your right.

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