April 2008

Vol 7 - No. 10
 

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Letter from U.S.A.  | April 2008

 


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Row over M. F. Husain hits New York 

   

 

 

The New York office of the art auction house, Christie's, rejected demands to withdraw the work of controversial Indian artist, M. F. Husain.  

 

M. F. Husain's "Battle of Ganga and Jamuna: Mahabharata 12 (Lot 57)", a painting from the Hindu epic executed in 1971-1972, went under the hammer for a whopping $1.6 million, setting a world record at Christie's Southeast Asia and Contemporary Indian art sale on March 20.

 

Estimated at $600,0000-800,000 the work sold to an anonymous bidder for $1.6 million. Husain's monumental work, a large diptych, was made in the apex of his career and is a part of a series of 27 paintings he began for the 11th Sao Paolo Biennial.

The painting depicts a scene of the ancient Hindu epic "Mahabharata", detailing the cosmic civil war between forces of right and wrong.

 

Hindu Janjagruti Samiti and Indian American Intellectuals Forum jointly staged a noisy protest demonstration in front of Christie’s Art Gallery  in New York on March 20th against M. F. Husain for painting Hindu Gods and Goddesses in lewd, and extremely vulgar sexual positions. 

 

“Mr. Husain, by faith is a Muslim.  But his target is always Hindu.  It is unfathomable to comprehend as to what on earth prompts him to paint only Hindu Gods and Goddesses in a bawdy form, questioned Mr. Arish Sahani, Vice President of the Forum. 

 

One of the protester asked:  “If Husain believes in the artistic freedom, in that case why has he never painted founders of other faiths in nude?” 

 

The protesters shouted slogans and carried banners saying:  “M.F. Husain – Shame, Shame”, “Down with – M.F. Husain”, “Boycott - Christie’s” “Husain is - Insane”, etc. 

 

The protesters blamed Christie’s for aiding and abetting hate crimes against Hindu people by exhibiting Hindu Gods and Goddesses,  adored and worshipped by one sixth of  humanity on earth, in a despicable form.

 

Earlier, in a letter addressed to Christie’s, Narain Kataria, President of Indian American Intellectuals Forum, a New York based group, had expressed his group’s outrage and anguish against the unacceptable and uncivilized behavior of Husain, in the following words. 

 

“Six courts have issued arrest warrants against him.  More than 28,000 people have signed a petition condemning Mr. Husain for his malicious attempts to vilify Hindu people. 1250 police complaints have been filed against him.  In several cities his effigies have been burnt.  In nutshell, he is a criminal and a fugitive from justice.  For further information, please visit:  http://sanatan.org/hussaincampaign/.” 

 

“Indian Parliament has condemned Husain squarely for painting nude pictures of Mother India.  By his insidious actions, he has deeply hurt the sentiments of more than one billion Hindus all over the globe.” 

 

“We believe, it is unbecoming on the part of  Christie’s, a reputable Art Gallery, to associate with a person of criminal background,  and promote his paintings.”

 

The Forum President, Narain Kataria, also sent a power point presentation to Christie’s, highlighting “Husain’s deliberate distortion and degradation of Hindu culture”.

 

They have accused Husain of painting Hindu gods and goddesses in a ''derogatory and vulgar'' form. 'Respect all religions' is their advice to him. 

 

BBC reports, "Last year police in India's financial capital Mumbai (Bombay) began legal proceedings to seize property belonging to Mr Husain. The order came after he failed to attend hearings in a court regarding an obscenity case filed against him. Mr Husain is now thought to be living in the Middle East.

 

"Correspondents say that his paintings are much sought after and some have been auctioned for millions of dollars.

He has even made two Bollywood films, although both bombed at the box office."  

 

 

Previous BBC Reports

 

Indian painter sorry for nude art
08 Feb 06 |  South Asia

Indian painter agrees $21m deal
10 Sep 04 |  South Asia

Smashing India's sexual taboos
29 Oct 02 |  Entertainment

In pictures: India's dying art
02 Jun 04 |  In Pictures

Storm over nude art in India
04 Sep 00 |  South Asia

Indian artist upsets sensibilities
08 Jul 98 |  South Asia

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