Sunday, February 28, 2010

'Husain knows his Ramayana better than many pundits'

Photographer and designer Ram Rahman is M F Husain’s friend. More to the point, he is an activist — for the freedom to speak. A founder-member of the artists’ body Sahmat, he laments India’s shrinking space for creative freedom in conversation with Nandita Sengupta . Excerpts from the interview: 

What is it about M F Husain’s clutch of paintings that keeps him away from his country? 
Husain is one of the few artists who has a popular connect because he comes from a different background. He has crossed every tradition, worked on every religion, mined all these religious traditions and mined all iconographic traditions. The irony is that he is not a revolutionary painter. Conceptually, Husain has never transgressed. He has reinterpreted existing iconography in his own style. That’s all. But he has a connect.

There are two issues here. First, the titles of the paintings. Second, the politics of protest. Husain named his Durga sketch just that, ‘Durga’. ‘Durga in union with Lion’ is the interpretation on the website of the Janajagruti samiti, which run their main campaign against Husain. Bharatmata was not a title Husain gave. ‘Hanuman rescuing Sita’ was also an untitled work. The title was given by an art critic who didn’t have the guts to come out in the open. Husain is not stupid. He knows his Ramayana better than many pundits. He was making a flying Hanuman. The title is incorrect. Did Hanuman rescue Sita? No.

Full interview here Times of India

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