M.F. HUSAIN: Do you throw out a naughty child?

India’s best known painter Maqbool Fida Husain, under attack (and almost in hiding) for portraying Hindu dieties such as Durga and Saraswati in an “uncharitable light”, has spoken out in an interview to CNN-IBN’s Akanksha Banerjee in London.

Cryptically, the 91-year-old, described as the “Picasso of India” by Forbes magazine, draws an analogy with children in his defence.

“If children in the house break things, you don’t throw them out. If you hold on to petty things, you won’t grow,” reads the translation of his Hindi quote.

If you listen to the audio carefully, though, you will hear words like “chote cheez” and “normal” in the same sentence. Is Husain saying that he may have made a “small” mistake, and that it is time to forgive and forget, and allow him to get on with his life after his apology?

Husain, who has had to virtually flee the country and live in London and Dubai, to escape goons threatening his life and limb, also perplexingly claims the controversy has not “affected at all”: “I am working like I normally do.”

And, in the 60th year of independence, he doffs his hat to the nation from afar.

“We’ve built a culture which is called composite culture. This is unique, which you don’t find anywhere in the world. That’s what we are proud of. In the West, they are only now recognising this. Their eyes are open now.”



A fortnight ago, on America’s National Public Radio, Husain said that art is always ahead of its time. Remember, the horrified reaction to the Impressionists when their works first appeared. And, he adds:

“Mostly people are ignorant. What is the language of painting? They’re ignorant. It’s so difficult to make them aware but time will teach them.”

Husain says his intention was never to offend, but he stands firm on his right to paint what he wants.

“I don’t use the word regret. There is no such thing. When you love somebody, you never say sorry. It’s with love which predominates.

There’s not a single line, or even a dot, which is done with hatred. There is no hatred. It is pure love.

25 Responses to “M.F. HUSAIN: Do you throw out a naughty child?”

  1. Mysorean Says:

    Mr. Husain repeatedly painted Devi Saraswati in the nude. It was his freedom of expression, protected by our Constitution.

    Now Mr. Husain should paint Prophet Mohammed in the nude — that way, he and his art can really earn my respect.

  2. Siva Says:

    MF is our desimama.com!

  3. Sarakki Says:

    without missing a beat, the usual senseless fellows are going to start spouting nonsense about painting the prophet naked. Its very simple: if muslims have a tradition against painting the prophet naked, thats fine, let them not paint him. we have a tradition of painting our gods and goddesses – there is no parity – any kind of parity you attempt to create is a meaningless, political, near-sighted argument. Hussain’s Saraswati is a beautiful, devotional painting – most artists & critics agree – and you would too if your brain wasnt so poisoned by the thought that it was a Muslim who painted it. Pathetic!

  4. old monk Says:

    mf painted not just gods and goddesses, but some of them were naked, why?
    is there a tradition in hindu religion of painting them naked?

    you hear about what chandramohan painted in gujarat, in byrappa’s kannada interview with jesus and durga. Is this art? mf, chandramohan etc are playing with sacred motifs of religions irresponsibly. what message do they want the painting to convey?

  5. Raviraj Valalmbe Gowda Says:

    let MF Hussain also paint the following…
    1. nude mother theresa
    2. Nude Mohammed the prophet
    3. nude Fathima

    rest of the gods/ goddesses have already been painted nude by him including mother india!

  6. M. Basavaraj Says:

    The controversial paintings of M F Husain which depict the nude Hindu Gods and Goddesses in such pornographic postures are undisputably in bad taste. He should know that liberty is not licence and that his liberty to lash out his brush ends where the canvas of other religions begins! If Husain, like a naughty child, is allegedly guilty of a mischief of this sort he should not be thrown out But he needs to be mended or if need be he should be made to end his capricious and non-sensical aberrations in the larger interest of maintaining harmony among the people of different religious faiths and denominations.

  7. Raviraj Valalmbe Gowda Says:

    Well said Basavaraj!
    even a naughty child understands after a warning/ little cane treatment…but MFH has not learnt to respect others sensibilities even after so many protests!
    now that he is hiding in faraway London…proves that he is slowly learning…

  8. Rajan Says:

    Not paying heed or hurting the sentiments
    of others is a sort of OCN ( obsessive compulsive neurosis).
    In the name of freedom of expression Rushdie became a celebrity.
    They need repairs in NIMHANS.
    Ignore the stubbornness of a naughty kid after
    giving a piece of your mind.
    Come to look at the Saraswathi created by
    Raja Ravivarma.
    It is the real image created by the vedic
    verse ” yaakundEndu thushaarahaaradhavaLaa……..”.
    In the first part of twentieth century, do you know,
    the calender art caused a revolution all over
    he pre-independent India. It was as unifying a
    force which worked parallel y with the so called
    great freedom fighters.
    Every day you see those calenders and worship.
    He created those paintings unmindful of what ever
    people of those days commented!
    That is keeping your cool.

  9. Mysorean Says:

    Sarakki, are you saying Hindus have a tradition of painting their goddesses nude? That’s simply not true. Show me one such example — and don’t tell me to go to Konark.

    Konark has no temple of worship — it has only monuments of art. In Hindu historical tradition, the license given to artists has been without par. The nude depictions of apsaras, etc. in Konark, etc. are an example of the liberal Hindu ethos. That doesn’t mean Hindus worship nudity, which would be a ridiculous conclusion given the facts. Maybe one or two do — such as you.

    Anyway, as we know, the Islamic invasion of India occured in the 16th century.

    In the Islamic tradition there has been literally zero respect for artistic freedom vis-a-vis criticizm of religious figures or motifs.

    You are a hypocrite to celebrate Husain’s nude Saraswati and then say he need not paint a nude Prophet Mohammed. You are taking unfair advantage of the liberal Hindu tradition.

    Husain’s freedom of expression specifically exploits Hindu sensibilities, so it is unethical if not illegal.

    As I said, I oppose vigilate action against Husain, but I’d like us to consider the hypocrisy of Husain’s constitutional freedom of expression.

    (And of course, the fact that Husain was born Muslim is irrelevant — my argument is regardless of the religion of the artist).

  10. Mysorean Says:

    Typo alert: In my penultimate paragraph in the previous post, please read the word as “vigilante.” Thanks.

  11. Doddi Buddi Says:

    Dear All,

    As far as I am concerned, it is best MFH paints himself nude and preferably into a corner of a gents public toilet where people can happily direct their stream of appreciation at him.

    If he persists in painting Gods in an obscene manner or in a manner offensive, he should be prepared for the consequences.

  12. Doode Says:

    Does MF has the “guts” to Saudi Arabia and paint a “Nude” woman? He private parts will be chopped off in public. He will be stoned to death.

  13. Rohit Says:

    What i am wondering is WHY IN HELL is shahrukh sharing the canvas with him in London? Shahrukh is given so much popularity unnecessarily. Most of his movies were good because of ONLY DIRECTOR-PRODUCER AND HEROINE (Kajol in most). His monotonous acting is nothing compared to some of brilliant actors in Indian cinema. He is an antinational who compares himself with Changez khan once in an interview. Charity my foot! both of them should be punished.
    -An Indian.

  14. Vijay Says:

    Oh now he claims to be a “Naughty Child”? Initially when there was a hue and cry he claimed that he was just following his “Artistic Intuition”…

  15. Doddi Buddi Says:

    I have dream that one day….

    When I come into my fortune, I am going to erect many showchalayas–like that imbecile MS Ramaiah who erected sign posts to his hospital–only more function specific–like DB’s Muthry only 2-minutes away that sort of thing. In these toilets I will have my designers build two corners–MF Hussain corner and the rest anti-national corner. I will install the finest portraits which deserve a shower of appreciation from the gents who use these toilets. I expect to hear MFH corner getting more appreciation 24/7. Thank you all.

  16. karigar Says:

    NPR program on MF Husain’s pain-t(h)ings
    [ http://karigar.sulekha.com/blog/post/2007/06/npr-program-on-mf-husain-s-pain-t-h-ings.htm ]
    NPR Program: “All things considered”

    SUB: May 27th-Philip Reeves on the Husain painting controversy in India

    Dear Editors,

    Ref NPR’s story archived at your link

    Here is a request-

    NPR should address serious issues of lack of objectivity, and a tendency to sensationalize, arising from the quality of this report. This report essentially denies a voice to the millions of concerned hindus (including Indian-Americans like myself), who are not part of any of the politics being played on this issue.

    Philip Reeves (the interviewer) has framed the interview as being one of urbane “Indian intellectuals & artists” vs the lumpen “hindu nationalists/rightwing, etc..” Missing from his report are apolitical hindu voices that are concerned with Mr Husain’s immature abuse of the some of the foundations of what he rightly calls the “composite Indian culture”.

    Also not discussed is Mr Husain’s record of unequal consideration of the anguish of his hindu countrymen whose tolerance he banks heavily on, as opposed to his muslim countrymen on whose insistence he has withdrawn many of his artworks.

    The objective reader/editor needs to wonder why the same respect and sensitive reporting given to similar issues involving Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious icons & symbols is not given to Hindu ones by the media.

    NPR is usually good in this, but seems to have slipped up here.

    Some urbane well-titled & well-accented “Indians” defend MFH, and his bland statements are quoted, and “hindu fundmentalists” are vehemently attacked by these Indians, who cannot claim to represent all of Indian civil society, much less explain the hindu reaction as all “rightwing”. Fine so far. Then, uncontested assertions were made that “well meaning hindus accept that ‘their Picasso’ doing these paintings was quite ok by them”.

    The choice of who got picked for the rebuttal leaves a lot to be desired. It was a not-so-well-accented representative of the VHP. To top it all, (s)he got less than a sentence in (compared to the few minutes of fulsome praise/defence of MFH) and was pretty much cut-off in mid sentence.

    There are many hindus (counting the Many Indian American hindus also) who could provide a decent articulation/argument.

    Please don’t deny us a voice, although our balanced non-political articulation may end up spoiling the “good guy vs bad guy” juiciness of the story that Mr Reeves so wants to tell, & that NPR is confident it’s listeners so want to hear.

    We’re deeply hurt & critical of Mr Husain’s paintings, and we’re neither “hindu nationalists/rightwing” nor the urbane defenders of this type “art” that the octogenarian celebrity must know crossed the bounds of decent public behavior.


  17. manoj Says:

    mf hussain is a case of sexual imbalance.He painted bcoz he always wanted to get his mother fucked by elephant,monkeys & tiger which he very well depicted in paintings.Lady with tiger,elephant,monkey is his mother bcoz once he tried to fuck his mother but she ran away saying you bastard “tu mere ooper hi fida ho gaya,tujhe muhammad ki beti fatima ko pakdna tha” thats when he added fida to his name.maqbool fida hussain.

  18. manav Says:

    mf hussain is actually a product of harem. ie. he himself doesnot know who is his mother but very well know his father because his father had 7 wives & he is confused as to from which womb he came out so on his adolsecnt he ran after all this 7 ladies trying to f—- them.
    Then these ladies said “you bastard tu hum per hi fida ho gaya,lanat hai “& then he added fida to his name as per your blog a few days back. That’s why he started painting his mothers with such nude scenes but named her as hindu dieties. Actually word “MOTHER” was a curse for him & wherever mother word like mother india,mother god or hindu dieties worshipped as mother ,he painted to please his innerself.
    The woman with decent picture is the lady who breast feeded her & kept this bastard alive to paint such pornos.
    There are so good painters in india & yet in dark bcoz they are not media savvy like hussain but hussain is named picasso & so on by foreigners bcoz they give regards to such nude pics & media also limelight this kind of products.
    let hussain wherever he is hiding should read & comment on genuinity of this blog.

  19. Vishnu Kumar Says:

    Such sad responses.

    Directing a question at each and one of you : Have you seen his work or tried to understand the meaning of it .

    Have you looked through ancient Indian art ( not the images from your fabricated school textbooks), the sculptures through ancient temples around the country or the kamasutra illustrations ? (I’m sure all you guys would have seen the latter.) dieties and idols have been depicted in various compromising positions through sculpture around temples, art fresco’s in the ajanta caves and through vedic scriptures.

    So before you start abusing a world renowned artist for doing his thing. Please educated your immature selves.

    Yes, i do agree that it was wrong for him to display his work publicly considering our country is crowded with hypocritic people like yourselves, who praise the very freedom fighters for giving us all freedom to expression.

  20. Vinod Says:

    Mr Vishnu Kumar I request you to please study well about the hindu culture before making such comments. Did you really go to those ancient temples and see the nude sculptures ? Can you please show us any sculptures showing the nudity of any hindu god. You are talking about the paintings and sculptures of apsaras and ganikas and you are trying to name those as hindu God in compromising positions.

  21. Raj Says:

    Well said, Sarakki

  22. Abhijeet Says:

    i would say why we are tolerating this stupid ART ?
    the stupid Newspaper are preventing him…

  23. Doddi Buddi Says:

    Dear All,

    MFH is worried that he may face extreme ‘art criticism’ by a majority of Indians if he ever steps into India again. It is quite obvious that MFH has been a retard for quite some time. Some ignorant glitterati bought his paintings and thought they were into art. This made MFH famous.

  24. Do we need Religion? « Consider It Crashed Says:

    […] is all powerful and benevolent and omnipotent how come he gets offended by a book or a cartoon or a painting that a mere mortal makes/writes/paints???Is God such a petty person, so in need of an ego boost?And […]

  25. Richa Says:

    @ dear vishnu kumar , there is difference between ‘making love’ between a couple in love and rape , so Please do not compare the pornographic paintings with ravana’a penis hanging in mid air with hindu mythology and sculptures .

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