US varsity to exhibit M.F. Husain’s early masterpieces


Washington: Brown University, a member of the prestigious Ivy League, will hold an exhibition of early masterpieces of Maqbool Fida Husain, one of India’s most famous living painters, from Feb 5 through March 26.

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The exhibit, part of Providence, Rhode Island based Brown’s Year of India initiative, will be hosted by the Cogut Centre for the Humanities, in collaboration with the David Winton Bell Gallery.

“Early Masterpieces, 1950s-70s” is drawn from the collection of Amrita Jhaveri, a 1991 Brown graduate, and a specialist in 20th-century Indian art and the author of “A Guide to 101 Modern and Contemporary Indian Artists”.

One of the most recognised figures in Indian art, the 94-year-old Husain has been instrumental in the rise of modernism in India and the introduction of contemporary Indian art onto an international stage.

As a young man, Husain incorporated Western styles, drawn from the work of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, with Indian subjects – Hindu, Muslim, and secular – to create distinctly modernist art.

“Husain’s paintings are unique for their profundity and their playfulness, for their ability to explore themes of cultural history and legacy in a context of explosive colour and beauty,” said Michael Steinberg, director of the Cogut Centre for the Humanities.

“This union of visual art and humanistic inquiry makes for an ideal collaborative project between the Cogut Centre and the Bell Gallery, as well as a perfect celebration of the Year of India.”

Husain’s paintings and prints are associated with his cultural roots – steeped in Indian visual culture, as well as social and religious traditions – and demonstrate his diverse influences, from India’s sensuous ancient sculpture to the colours of Rajasthani miniature painting and the lines and forms of Picasso and Braque.

Focusing on Husain’s early works, the exhibition features 12 paintings created between 1954 and 1971, providing a view into the artist’s first manifestations of his many favorite subjects: life on the streets, woman and horse (together and apart), and mythological and religious personages.

Husain’s interest in mythology is represented in the exhibition by Draupadi, which portrays the heroine of the epic Mahabharata. The painting is one of 29 that were created for the S�o Paulo Biennale in 1971.

“Amusement in the Street” and “The Puppet Dancers” depict forms of street entertainment. Virile horses, depicted in full gallop or rearing with heads thrown back, are a leitmotif in Husain’s work.