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Significant Indian Art Significant Indian Art MAQBOOL FIDA HUSAIN (1915 - 2011)
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In his entire oeuvre dedicated to Mother, Husain created innumerable works on paper and canvas. The present work is a fine example of the artist’s mastery in creating a vision of emotional intensity. He depicts a destitute child clinging onto the folds of Mother’s drapery, just as he had seen them take refuge in her care. The burgeoning slums of the metropolis, left to rot, scores of impoverished lives in the underbelly of its forgotten by lanes. The Mother had given them food, shelter and a dignity to re-claim. Husain paints such a girl child in this canvas, standing next to the Mother, releasing a white dove. The dove, which is a symbol of peace and freedom, also signifies the Holy Spirit in Christian doctrines. Here it reflects upon the holiness of Mother’s work, that she preferred to call as God’s work.
Gifted by M. F. Husain to Shilpa Shirodkar in 1998 during the making of the movie 'Gaja Gamini' and subsequently given by Shilpa to sister Namrata Shirodkar in 2004
MAQBOOL FIDA HUSAIN - ODE TO MOTHER TERESA
Husain lost his own biological mother at the tender age of two. Memories of infancy disallowed the vivid image of a woman, he called mother; not even for an artist who could imagine a world otherwise. All his life Husain strived to capture the form and essence of Mother – the eternal metaphor of love, compassion and sacrifice. His own mother Zainab, had offered her life in sadqa (an offering to avert misfortune) for the long life of her ailing son. Husain recollects – “Scared and confused, she did not know what to do….she laid Maqbool on the bed in the quivering light of the lamp, covered her uncombed hair with a black sheet, lifted her hands in prayer and went around the bed seven times.”
This wish was granted. It brought him longevity and subsequent good fortune, but shorn him of a mother’s love. In later course of life, occasional glimpses of motherly affection filled him with immense agony and a feeling of impenetrable pervading darkness. From this inky darkness of obscurity, emerged in time the stark white folds of clothes with thin blue borders, embodying in itself the tender spirit of maternity. It was an answer as it were to Husain’s personal loss and a lifetime of craving.
Husain’s first glimpse of Mother Teresa left him with a lasting impression. He narrated – “I was walking through the streets of Calcutta with my pen and sketchbook, when I saw her angelic form, draped in white sari with her head covered, her face suffused with tender love and her posture discerning humility. She was comforting sick children and old people by holding their hands and praying for them. I felt that scene of love in every pore of my body. I just could not move away from there. That very day, I resolved to make a portrait of her.”
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