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Significant Indian Art Significant Indian Art MAQBOOL FIDA HUSAIN (1915 - 2011)
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SELF-PORTRAITS BY M. F. HUSAIN:
In his entire artistic oeuvre Husain had created a huge body of work based on his self-portraits. Portraiture, seen as the narration of a character, had always intrigued him. As a child he would keenly observe the people in his neighbourhood - the way they dressed, the work they did for their day to day existence – all intrigued him to no end. In the same light, he also began to introspect and analyze his own existence in a crowd of millions. The motive was to understand the world through the self, which though a miniscule of the universe, nevertheless reflected in it the essence of prakriti or nature.
We see him making self-portraits of every stage of his life – from infancy to the elderly. Through his self-portraits we trace the incredible journey of Husain the artist. It is interesting to note the unique quality of his portraits, in the fact that though they have his features clearly etched, they stop short of his exact likeness, in the absence of the eye pupils. The same is exemplified in the present two paintings by him on paper and canvas (lot 61 & lot 60). Perhaps it is an attempt to merge among the crowd of humanity. His bearded ambiguous form at times makes us wonder if it is him or a messiah. Say for example in lot 60, a single thin white line that cuts across the silhouette of his shoulder, gives us the impression of him to be the crucifix bearer. Was Husain visualizing himself to be so deep in the complexities of his life? One can only wonder.
Also each of these portraits brings forth in them a metaphor that stands for a symbolic association to his humble beginnings, however small or irrelevant it may seem. In doing so he manages to connect himself with the struggle of a million unheard voices. The umbrella is such a metaphor as is seen in the 1985 painting (lot 59).