Updated: Feb 9, 2022
M.F. Hussain (Maqbool Fida Hussain), also know as the Picasso of India by Forbes magazine is an exceptional Indian artist who was the driving force behind introducing modern art in India. He was born on 17 September 1915 in Pandharpur Maharashtra in Suleyman Bohra family and almost led a controversial life throughout his career for obscene depiction in his paintings. He is predominantly acknowledged for his bold and vibrant paintings and themes based on Gandhiji, Mother Teresa, Ramayana, Mahabharata, British Raj, and the cultural life of Indian rural and urban areas. He depicted Indian subject matter in the style of the European Art movement particularly cubism.
Unlike many privileged children around, Hussain had lost his mother when he was just one and a half years old. His father got remarried after which he shifted to Indore and continued his schooling from there itself. During his teenage days, he lived in Baroda where he enrolled himself in a calligraphy school. While learning calligraphy, he realized his true calling and he pursued art as his passion for J.J. school of Arts in Mumbai.
In the initial years of his career, when the Indian cinema was at its peak, releasing 200 films per year, he painted cinema posters in Mumbai along with working for a toy company as a designer which had added an additional income to his earning. He always aspired to stir the Indian art world but waited for the perfect opportunity until 1947. The partition of India and Pakistan opened the windows for him to come up with Progressive Artist's Group to instill and encourage artists to reflect emerging modern ideas in their paintings. This marked the turning point in the history of Indian Art.
and after which he continued to reach the zenith of his The first-ever exhibition of Hussain was in Zurich in 1952 career.
M.F. Hussain has been known for his bold and undaunting paintings due to which his life has always been contentious. This came to the limelight when a Hindi monthly magazine, Vichar Mimansa in 1996 published one of his controversial paintings, where he had painted a bright red nude woman contorted into the shape of the Indian subcontinent. As a consequence of this, he was charged with multiple lawsuits. He had even received multiple death threats because of which he took asylum in Qatar and was given Qatari citizenship in 2008.
Some of his masterpieces include 'Three Dynasties' where he portrayed and veracious history focusing on the Mauryan Empire, Mughal dynasty and the British Raj; 'Traditional Indian festivals' through which he showed the real meaning of religion and tradition of Indian culture; 'Indian Households' which reflects the day to day life of three ordinary urban families.
M.F. Hussain died due to cardiac arrest on 9th June 2011 at Royal Brompton Hospital, London after being ill for several months. He has opened a wide window of opportunities for the young artists and has steered the youth towards modernism. Due to this, he was honored with Padma Shree, Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan, Raha Ravi Verma Award by Kerala Government, and had won a lot more accolades.