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Maqbool Fida Husain

Maqbool Fida Husain


Maqbool Fida Husain was born in 1917 in Pandarpur in Maharashtra.

Husain lost his mother when he was less than 2 years old. In 1919 his family moved to Indore with him. From 1923 - 1931 he studied at Government Sanyogita Ganj, Primary School, Indore. During this period he was shifted to Baroda and his further schooling was at Darul Tulaba Husamiya Madrasa in Baroda. At this early age he had started drawing and painting on his own. He developed a great fascination for cinema.

At a very early age he picked up various languages; Hindi, Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Gujarati, etc. He had great admiration for Mahatma Gandhi. In 1932 he met N. S. Bendre who insisted that M. F. Husain join evening classes at the Indore School of Art. In 1934 he got admission in J. J. School of Art, Mumbai (he left Indore School of Art without completing his diploma course) Due to the sudden demise of his father he was unable to continue with his studies at Sir J.J. School of Art, Mumbai. In 1936 he started working as cinema hoarding painter. In 1941 he married Fazila. In 1942 he took up a job at Fantasy Furniture shop and started designing nursery furniture and wooden toys. In 1947 he gave up a job at Fantasy. In 1948 - 1949 he joined the Progressive Artists' Group (PAG). He joined the 1st show of PAG at Baroda.

In 1950 he had his first one man show in Bombay. In 1952 he visited China and met the great Chinese artist, Chi Pei She. In 1953 he visited Europe for the first time and got exposed to Renaissance masters & modern painters like Paul Klee, Picasso, Cezanne, etc. Husain had several one man shows. In 1956 he created the landmark painting 'Between the Spider and the Lamp'. He had one man shows in Zurich and Prague. In 1957 he executed murals for Air India. In 1960 he and Ram Kumar jointly visited Varanasi. In 1960 he had a one man show at Kunst Kabinet, Frankfurt, Germany. In 1961 he had a one man show at Tokyo and Rome. In 1962 he had a solo of Rajasthan Series in Bombay and New Delhi. In 1964 he had a one man show at Indra House, New York. In 1964 he visited Canada on Canada Art Council’s invitation. In 1964 he executed Bharat Bhagya Vidhata, a mural size painting for the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai. In 1964 he did two landmark portraits of Jawaharlal Nehru. In 1965 he had one person shows in Baghdad and Kabul. He had one man shows in Bombay, New Delhi, New York, Poland and Czechoslovakia. In 1968 he painted the Ramayana Series. He had a solo show of Kerala Series at Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai. In 1969 he had his first retrospective ‘21 years of painting’ at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai. He had a solo show in Switzerland. In 1971 he exhibited the Mahabharata Series at the Sao Paulo Biennale. In 1972 inspired by Indo Pak War (1971) he painted a major anti-war painting. In 1975 he made 3 paintings on Indira Gandhi during the emergency.

In 1977 he created Cyclonic Silence and was showcased at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai. In 1978 he began Calligraphy & the Sufi Series. In 1979 he met with Mother Teresa and created the famed Mother Teresa Series. In 1979 he painted April Fourth 1979 in response to Z.A. Bhutto’s hanging and started the series: That Obscure Object of Desire. In 1985 he began painting the Raj Series. In 1990 he created Calcutta 300; on the occasion of tercentenary of Calcutta City. In 1991 he exhibited solo at Vadehra Art Gallery, New Dehli. In 2002 he had a solo show Kamasutra in Paris with forty two water colors at the Pierre Cardin Centre, Paris. In 2003 he had a solo exhibition of ‘88 Husain in Oils 003’ at Pundole Art Gallery, Vadehra Art Gallery & Gallery 88. In 2004 he created Our Planet Called Earth (a series of twenty five paintings). In 2006 he had an exhibition of his Mahabharata Series at Peabody Essex Museum in Massachusetts, USA.

He participated in various groups shows:
In 1958 he participated in eight painters exhibition arranged by Tom Keehn, New Delhi. He participated in Indian Painting Now organized by the British Art Council, London. In 2000 He had a joint exhibition with contemporary artist Vijay Shinde at Gallery 7, Mumbai. In 2007-2008 he participated in 'From Everyday To The Imagined: Modern Indian Art' at Singapore Art Museum, Singapore and Museum of Art, Seoul National University, Seoul. In 2008 he participated in ‘Moderns’ at Royal Culture Centre, Amman (Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi). In 2008 - 2009 he participated in a show at Lalit Kala Akademi - New Delhi. In 2008 - 2009, 2010 he took part in ‘Indian Highway’ a travelling exhibition at Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo, London and Hearning Museum of Contemporary Art, Denmark. In 2008 - 2009, Husain participated in ‘Modern India’ organized by Institut Valencia d’Art Modern and Casa Asia in Valencia in Spain. In 2009 Husain had a joint exhibition ‘Spirit of India’ with S. H. Raza at Kings Road Galleries, London. In 2011 he had a joint show with Owais Husain at Indian Embassy, Muscat. In 2010 he participated in group shows in Chennai, New Delhi and Mumbai. In 2010 he participated in ‘Art Dubai 2010’, Aicon Gallery, New York. In 2011 he took part in ‘Time Unfolded’ at Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi. In 2011 Husain participated in a group show in San Jose. In 2011 he participated in a group exhibition at Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, Atlanta. In 2011 he participated in a group show, Singapore.

He received numerous honours and awards:
In 1947 he participated for the 1st time in Bombay Art Society’s Annual Exhibition and won an award. In 1955 he painted the 1st mural size painting Zameen and won the National Award of Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi. In 1959 he won an award at Tokyo Biennale. In 1967 he directed ‘Through the Eyes of a Painter’ a short film, which won him the Golden Bear Award at Berlin film festival. In 1966 he was awarded the Padma Shree by Government of India. He won the National Award for ‘Through the Eyes of a Painter’. In 1986 he became a Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha). In 1989 the Government of India awarded him the Padma Vibhushan. He completed his second feature film Meenaxi: A Tale of 3 Cities. In 2005 he created a series of large paintings titled The Lost Continent. In 1999 he wrote and directed his first feature film ‘Gaja Gamini’.

He passed away in 2011 in London.

He was posthumously exhibited in India and overseas:
In 2011 his ‘Progressive on Paper’ was showcased at Aicon Gallery, New York. In 2011 - 2012 he was exhibited in New Delhi, Chennai, Bangladesh, Mumbai, Doha, London, Beijing, New York and Rome. In 2013, M.F. Husain was showcased with S.H. Raza, Tyeb Mehta, V.S. Gaitonde and Ramkumar, 'The Moderns' at Gallery 7, Mumbai. In 2013 he was exhibited in Dubai, New York and New Delhi. In 2014 he was exhibited ‘Post Picasso: Contemporary Reactions’ at Museum Picasso of Barcelona in Barcelona. In 2014 and 2015 he was exhibited at Aicon Gallery in New York and Grey Art Gallery, New York University in New York. In 2015 he was exhibited at Grosvenor Gallery in London.

Husain is considered one of India's Leading Modern artists and his legacy lives on through his works.

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