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Contemporary painting and Indian politics - Guest - 05-25-2007

Bharat Ratna may not be too far, as MF Hussain is all set to receive another award - Raja Ravi Verma Award - of all!

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Internationally acclaimed artist M F Hussain has been selected for Kerala government's prestigious Raja Ravi Varma Award for his outstanding contributions in the field of art.

Announcing this year's award, education and culture minister M A Baby said the award comprising Rs.1.25 lakh in cash prize, a citiation and a plaque would be presented to Hussain on his birthday on September 17.

Baby informed Hussain over telephone about Kerala government's award from the venue of the press conference. Hussain expressed happiness over getting the award instituted in the name of the great artist Raja Ravi Varma, Baby told reporters.

The jury was chaired by well-known artist Vivan Sundram. The other members were Ajayakumar, C N Karunakaran and Razia Soni.

And why not! Both legendary Raja Ravi Verma, and MF Hussain share their passion of making the Hindu figures the subject of their canvas!

"Saraswati" by Ravi Verma:
<img src='' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

"Saraswati" by MF Hussain:
<img src='' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

Hindu Jagruthi campaign against the move:

Contemporary painting and Indian politics - ramana - 05-25-2007

This topic should go into the India and Modernism thread. Ravi Verma's paintings are like the paintings of 18th century artists while MFH's are like scrawls of the Western modern painters. These are similar to caveman scrawls.

So Indian art also has travelled the path from form to formless that Western European art has traverssed. However WE art origins are from Christianity and the pathway is by artists rebelling against the Church imposed barriers. MFH is a Muslim painting Hindu gods and godesses and how is that modernity? What is he rebelling against in Hinduism? He already rebelled by becoming a Muslim. This is what I said earlier that Indian modernist painting is a fake culture as it is really well planned attack on Hindu religion using modern discourse and media.

Hinduism does not have the normative strictures that the Church or Islam has imposed on its followers on art and culture. So I submit that Indian modernist painting is a pseudo-art form to attack Hinduism.

Religious icons painting was the first schism of the Christian Church. During the Middle ages in Europe painting etc died out froms its Greek and Roman antecedents and was confined to illustrating books (illumination). Painting picked up during Reformation, Enlightenment and has led to the post modern age.

Contemporary painting and Indian politics - Guest - 05-26-2007

I fail to see any 'transition of art' form from Ravi Verma to MF Hussain, the way words knows it from Rambrandt to Picasso/Van Gogh. While Ravi Verma does stand out to be compared with Rambradt - can the same be said about Hussain in comparision to Picasso/Vincent Van Gogh's expressionism?

Also if Hussain stands out, let us say, as the 'modern' artist of India, why is his caricated modernism limited to painting Hindu Godesses in that form? How come Mother Teressa and Daughter of Mohammed - Fatima, not get the same nudist treatment on his canvas?

<img src='' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

<img src='' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

And see the comparision of Sultan and Brahmin:

<img src='' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

modernism means selective insult?

Contemporary painting and Indian politics - ramana - 05-26-2007

Aha Bodhi now you are becoming a gnani!

My point is that the 'moderns' under the guise of liberalism are selectively attacking Hindu art and icons. Most of his supporters are JNU ilk..

Op-Ed in Pioneer, 26 May 2007
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Awarded for denigration

Second Opinion: Nithin Sridhar

The recent decision of the Kerala Government to felicitate noted painter MF Husain with the Raja Ravi Varma Award needs to be critically examined. This is in view of the fact that <b>many formal police complaints and court cases have been registered against MF Husain for denigrating Hindu deities by painting them in the nude.</b>

Some of the paintings of Husain depict Durga in sexual union with a tiger and Lakshmi naked on Ganesh's head. Other paintings include a naked Saraswati, a naked Parvati, and a naked Hanuman and Sita sitting on the thigh of Ravana. <b>However, Muslim poets Faiz and Ghalib are shown well clothed and the Prophet's daughter, Fatimah, is also depicted fully clothed. This contrast clearly indicates that Husain's paintings are basically for denigrating Hinduism by showing its gods and goddesses nude. This hypocrisy on the part of a noted painter like MF Husain is not desirable.</b>

Further, if we compare his paintings with that of Raja Ravi Varma's, we notice a stark contrast. The paintings of Varma were sattwik (aesthetically pure), whereas those of Husain can be termed pornography under the garb of modern art. Hence, the Kerala Government must be asked whether they are not insulting Raja Ravi Varma by giving award named after him to MF Hussain and if they are also legitimising this denigration.

It may be argued that art is a medium of expression of our feelings and thoughts and every artist should have the freedom to express himself. But it should be noted that there is a difference between such art and the deliberate lampooning of the beliefs of a particular community. There is a difference between genuine art and pornography. For, more than a thousand years, Hindus have been oppressed and their beliefs and practices have been made fun of.

First it was the Muslim rulers who smashed and burned Hindu idols. Then, it was Christian missionaries and the British who concocted the Aryan invasion theory and published numerous anti- Hindu writings. Now, it is the crop of self-styled artists who paint Hindu gods naked or depict Hindu deities on toilet seats.

If self-respecting Hindus protest such denigration, they are termed 'Hindutva fanatics' by 'intellectuals'. The idea of 'freedom of expression' had, however, vanished from their intellect when Muslims protested Danish newspaper cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammed.


History will judge them and their supporters.

Contemporary painting and Indian politics - Guest - 05-26-2007

<!--QuoteBegin-ramana+May 25 2007, 04:26 PM-->QUOTE(ramana @ May 25 2007, 04:26 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->Aha Bodhi now you are becoming a gnani!

My point is that the 'moderns' under the guise of liberalism are selectively attacking Hindu art and icons. Most of his supporters are JNU ilk..

thanks for clarifying ramana. understand now that you did not mean what I earlier misunderstood. I was slightly confused by the below quoted beginning of your previous post, since I didn't see any connection of 'modernism' and selectively vulgar portrayal of Hindu deities.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>This topic should go into the India and Modernism thread</b>. Ravi Verma's paintings are like the paintings of 18th century artists while MFH's are like scrawls of the Western modern painters. These are similar to caveman scrawls.

<b>So Indian art also has travelled the path from form to formless that Western European art has traverssed.</b> <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Thanks for posting the above op-ed.

Contemporary painting and Indian politics - ramana - 05-26-2007

Bodhi, One thing we Indians need to understand is the language of discourse. Being techies we were not exposed ot the language/jargon/argot of these schools. So we are at a disadvantage when we seek to criticise.

I always had this hunch about MFH's paintings that they were odd in the Hindu/Indian mileu but till last year couldnt put a finger until I studied the Evolution of Western Art and its relationship to the various reform movements in Western Christianity.

Contemporary painting and Indian politics - Guest - 05-26-2007

Right Ramana. Please educate me, what is the parallel being drawn here between Hussain's 'art' and post-Christian artist rebellion? Have Picasso or other similar celebrated modern art champions ever done caricatured nude Virgin Mary or similar subjects? Or in other words, what and how did their art do, to challenge the restrictures of the Church? (just asking)

Contemporary painting and Indian politics - Guest - 05-26-2007

Also isn't this odd - that on one hand somebody's dressing up like Guru Gobind Singh (which being offensive to some is understandable) has created such a political and social turmoil and brought down such a broad-based protest in such a small duration. And on the other this guy has gone on and on - without any problems for years, in insulting Hindus by his 'art'!

Leave aside, any restriction upon him, he is being supported widely - ABN Amro puts his paintings on the credit card, Mumbai Police buys his paintings, Kerala Govt rewards him, dispite he is wanted in a criminal case and is absconding in Dubai/London, GOI has no interest in issuing a red-corner-notice (contrast this to HinduUnity dot org treatment where interpol was invoked)!

Contemporary painting and Indian politics - dhu - 05-26-2007

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The ‘Alien’ in Alienation

When the Sovereign gets secularized and becomes many sovereigns, and, consequently, when crea-tion and production can be translated into empirical actions of these many sovereigns, the religious pronouncements about labour (as an atonement for Sin) fall by the wayside. (There are other reasons as well, but we need not bother about them now.)

In these secular versions, it is said that one elaborates one’s self in the world by creating things, etc. What a human being creates belongs to his self, truly and essentially, because what he creates is part of his self. Man looks at his self when he looks at the world he has created. A secularized theological belief ends up acquiring the status of a psycho-anthropological fact.

As an illustration of this theme, take Marx’s notion of alienation. In his Paris Manuscripts, he identifies four dimensions of alienation, one of them being the following: the producer alienates his self from himself, when his products belong to someone other than himself, i.e., when the product is alienated. This self-alienation, i.e., alienation of one’s self from oneself, can come about if and only if, what one alienates, viz., the product is a part of one’s self (or, even, one’s entire self). In the Marxian anthro-pology, not only must there be a self with parts, but the objects which one creates must also constitute such a part. Otherwise, alienation of the product, no matter how it comes about, cannot be a dimen-sion in the self-alienation of the worker (or the producer). The idea that production is the objectification of man’s self is retained by Marx in Capital as well, where he compares the “worst of the architects to the best of the bees”. And yet, this is the irony I spoke of in the section on self, Marx claims that Man’s self is (the ‘is’ is one of identity) a set of social relations. At first sight, there does not appear anything amiss about it: after all, as Marx claims, social relations in capitalism are mediated by rela-tions between things, or, better still, capitalist social relations are material relations. Consequently, man’s self in capitalism is composed of material things. Thus, the “reification” of human self can be attributed exclusively to capitalist social relations, precisely because human self is a set of social rela-tions. This argument squares with the sentiment that Marx expresses else, where (Capital, Vol.3. Har-mondsworth: Pelican books, p.911), thus:

“From the standpoint of a higher socio-economic formation, the private property of particular indi-viduals in the earth will appear just as absurd as the private property of one man in other men. Even an entire society, a nation, or all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not the owners of the earth. They are simply its possessors, its beneficiaries, and have to bequeath it in an improved state to succeeding generations, as boni patres familias (Good heads of the household).”

A “higher socio-economic formation” is not necessary to realize this absurdity that Marx refers to; another world-model, a different one, will do just as fine. The American-Indians just could not com-prehend that the European settlers would want to buy land from them. “How could we sell what is not ours to sell, or yours to buy? How do you sell a Cheetah or its speed?” they asked in one of the most moving and memorable documents ever composed (It is called the “Speech of Seattle”). The idea is equally absurd to the world models of the Asian Indians as well. The difference between these two Indian communities is their degree of adaptation to the European demands: one adapted and survived; the other did not and was wiped out. One did not understand, but acted as though it did; the other failed to simulate, and paid the price for it.

Be it as that may, let me return to the argument. It appears neat, but it is not. The reason for it is that Marx needs to speak in terms of ‘objectification’, in order to give sense to ‘reification’; he has to speak of embodiments of labour-as-an-activity in order to get his critique going. If it is not possible for the products to embody the activities that produced them, money could not arise out of the circula-tion of commodities. This may appear an abstruse point. Besides, there are many thinkers who are also critical of the idea of “embodied labour”. What is strange about this situation is that those who criti-cize the idea of “embodied labour” when it comes to Marx’s theory, and those who would not know the difference between Das Kapital and Mein Kampf continue to talk of embodied labour nevertheless. To see how this could be, we have to widen the scope of the discussion.

All kinds of humanistic psychologies (not just C. Rogers’ version of it), and anthropologies which stress the dynamic nature of human self and speak in such terms as “self-actualization”, “self-expression”, “unfolding the potentials of the self”, etc., are confronted with the following problem: what is the relationship between, say, a painter and his painting, a poet and his poem, and an author and his book? Without exception, they would have to say that the product is an “actualization”, or an “expression”, in some way or another, of the person performing such an activity. But in which way pre-cisely? One answer would be to say that in such activities human beings express themselves. A human self, it could be said, grows “richer”, or “unfolds its potential”, etc., accordingly as the activities it per-forms. (We are familiar with this theme from an earlier section where the self expressed itself in its actions, etc.)

But, this is not a full answer. Suppose we ask, more specifically say, the following question: what is the relationship between Rembrandt and his paintings ? Do his paintings “express” his self (his “feel-ings”, his “perception of the world”, his “thoughts” or whatever else you want to use), and continue to do so long after the activity that created them has ceased? From within the ambit of these theories and from the world models of the West, there is only one possible answer one could give: yes. (Be-cause consider the next question that would ineluctably arise, if the answer is in the negative: whose self is being expressed in the paintings, then? Nobody’s? Such a stance would be flatly incoherent from within the Western model of self for obvious reasons.) How could a material object express your self unless it embodied the action which expressed it initially? It could not.

Look at what has happened as a result of this answer though. A material object, painting in this case, embodies, or expresses your self. That which embodies, expresses, or actualizes your self is, by the very definition, a part of your self. Rembrandt’s paintings belong to Rembrandt’s self (‘belonging’ should not be thought of here as standing for the juridical relations of private property), because they express, actualize, or embody his self.

We have a situation, then, where material objects constitute spatial parts of a self. An action can ex-press a self because such an expression can be objectified. Matter, put differently, traps human actions, human self-expressions. They are the “practico-inert” of Sartre, as he made them into an eternal condi-tion of human existence.

I hope that some amongst you are feeling a bit uneasy, because what I have said so far must be seen as flying in the face of “commonsense”. Indeed, it does. There is a problem involved here.

In no culture, including the Western culture of today, does one go around saying, “I am a table, a house, a bench, a painting, etc.” because one has produced them, and still be counted as a sane human being. The charitable might see such talk as being “metaphorical”, while the uncharitable may have such an individual committed. But, theories of anthropology, psychology and philosophy which pro-claim precisely this can hardly be considered as being metaphorical. Or, again, it is not as though a fal-lacy is being committed here, i.e., it is not the case that these theories are talking about the property of the “species” which is not attributable to the individual members of the species. They are not talk-ing about the “self-identity” of the species, but of our individual human selves. Everyone who speaks of “self-actualization”, etc., is accepting as self-evident what, if put explicitly, would be denied as be-ing true. Why, then, do both ideas not appear paradoxical when taken together?

The answer, I suggest, is in their world models. Both the obscure notion of “objectification” and its mundane counterpart “self-actualization” are intuitively familiar ideas. In and of themselves, they ap-pear both plausible and acceptable. But their familiarity and plausibility arise from the religious con-text where God is “everywhere” and where everything is a part of God’s self. In the process of secular-izing the Sovereign into many sovereigns, everyone has carried over the predicates ascribed of the Sovereign as the attributes of the many sovereigns as well. It cannot be any other way, because the predicates that I am talking about explicate the very meaning of the word ‘sovereign’ itself. The secular version appears intuitively satisfying not because it is so, but because the religious original, whose secular version it is, is satisfying. That is why they would deny the secular version, when confronted explicitly with it (Man is not God, is he?). Nevertheless, the secular version acquires, if you will, the status of a self-evident, banal and commonplace truth (and that is why it goes unexamined).

Religion, it has been said by many, is the essence of Man alienated from himself. The task of criticism of religion is, correspondingly, one of giving Man’s essence back to himself. This is an incomplete thought, and, if I am correct, we can complete it thus: if religion is the alienated essence of man, then by being alienated, it has become an alien essence as well. Giving this essence back to Man is not to give him his original essence back, but to provide him with an alien essence. You may want to say that God is the alienated human essence. But you cannot return this to man without making all men into gods. When men become gods, they cease being the humans they once were!

Neither Marx nor the humanists can be accused of being Christians. But the world models from within which they operate(d) and which, consequently, lend intelligibility to ideas like , ‘objectifica-tion’ are profoundly so. And yet, how many of us have not gone around talking about “alienation” as though it was clear as daylight to any but the perverse?

That a theological belief about the nature of the Sovereign has ended up becoming a psycho-socio-anthropological fact is evidenced and underscored by the discussions about ethnic groups and nation-hood – the theme of this section. In the following pages, I will try to provide you with some of my reasons for thinking so. It requires to be stressed, if it is not obvious by now, that the reasons I give are not the same as the justifications that the theorists provide during the course of the discussion. What I am trying to do is to show, to the best of my ability, why they could think that these ideas are plausible enough to require justification. That is, why the idea of “sovereign nations” (in its modern day versions) appears intelligible at all.

Contemporary painting and Indian politics - ramana - 05-26-2007

I will give quick overview but you need to dig deeper. In the beginning of the Christian West art was frowned upon. The depiction of images was not allowed. In fac tht issue of icons caused the big split between Roman and Orthodox Church. Gradually in the Middle Ages books started coming with illustrations (called illumination). Somewhere in the early part of the 11 century they started drawing images of the Madonna etc. Soon an art form developed and with reforms in Church it lead to more art. What you will come across is that modern art is a protest against the Church as the European Intellectual evolution happened.

The parallel is that MFH is attacking the Hindu domination of the Indian culture just as Picasso et al have protested the dominance of their cultures. And those who support him also share his views.

No Picasso et al did not register their protest as you are saying. Protest can come from within otherwise its an attack.

One source is Michael Hickey's
Modern Eurpoean Intellectual History

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->More on transformations in the art in the pre-war decades:  Please take a look at the paintings by

~Renoir, at (1874) and (1881)

~Monet, at (1890-91)

~Van Gogh at and (1889)

~Gauguin at (1889) and at (1894)

~Picasso at (1904, 1910)

~Braques, Leger, and Piccasso, etc. (various Cubist paintings. 1907-1914) at

~Kandinskii at (1908), (1909), and (1911).

Where is such an evolution of Indian painting? MFH suddenly emerges from late fifties with his caveman scrawls attacking Hindu domination of Indian culture. IOW he represent a fake modern and secular image of the new Indian intellectual of the post Independence age. Amartya Sen is the text icon and MFH is the artist icon of this genre.

Contemporary painting and Indian politics - Guest - 05-26-2007

a) European modern artists protested against the Church <b>control </b>over art.
b) MFH is attacking/protesting against Hindu <b>dominance </b>of Indian culture.

Dominance is natural and evolutionary, control is deliberate. there has never been any Hindu 'control' over art. Is there even a parallel between (a) and (b)? Against what is he protesting/attacking?

He has all the freedom to create marxist/islamist/christian inspired art to overcome the dominance of Hindu culture in India. What he is doing is entirely different. Anti-hindu art can be the name. Did European artists create anti-christian art? To your point, no.

So, I see no parallel in above, and drawing a parallel between the two phenomenon, imo, is only glorifying his cheap vulgarity.

Contemporary painting and Indian politics - Guest - 05-26-2007

Bodhi, I <i>think</i> what Ramana is saying is that MF Hussain is the representative <i>in the art field</i> of the body of the psecularists who've emerged out of the blue in the last decades. In order to both disguise and 'defend' their position of attacking Hinduism to the west and the rest of pseculardom, they are cloaking themselves in the intellectual garb that only western modern art legitimately developed and owned.

Ramana is not arguing that the western and Indian versions are comparable in any real sense, only that the Indian versions (Hussain in 'art', Amartya Sen in writings - Ramana's examples) seek to present themselves to the outside world and the mindless psecular masses as being the modernist Indian counterparts to the west. That is, I think Ramana is arguing that they want to project themselves in such a way as that they can ward off criticism by saying they are doing legitimate expressionist art with the same reasons the west had, while their real intentions of course are beyond obvious.

In this way, when Hindus then protest against MF Hussain (and Amartya Sen - and IMO Arundathi Roy, Mira Nair, Deepa Mehta and the like), these people can cry to the international - actually only western - community and say how The Hindoos are being obscurantist, fundamentalist and 'fanatic', with no sense of art and no understanding of the supposedly 'worldwide' evolution of artforms. (Even though that evolution is particular only to the west and its situation, the west imagines everything it experienced is something the rest of the world also experienced/knows/should know/should care to know.)

It is precisely because these psecular Indians are mounting their attack on Hinduism in a manner that the west innately recognises and in the artform-language the west instantly understands - it is, after all, calculated to appeal to western sensibilities and the western mind - that they know the 'international' community will immediately come to their defense. And so too would the psecularists in India come to their defense, who worship everything western and imagine that Indian civilisation evolved to suddenly and magically come to the exact same destination as where the west is now.

Look at this insightful statement by Ramana:
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->MFH suddenly emerges from late fifties with his caveman scrawls attacking Hindu domination of Indian culture. IOW he represent a fake modern and secular image of the new Indian intellectual of the post Independence age. Amartya Sen is the text icon and MFH is the artist icon of this genre.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->See particularly the terms 'Fake modern and (fake) secular', 'suddenly emerges', 'new Indian intellectual'.
'Attacking Hindu domination of Indian culture' explains it all. MF Hussain has applied the same kind of art-form that the west had used to protest against the domination it experienced. Because of this, appeals to the west/international audience will immediately elicit sympathy: people in the west remember how they used exactly the same artform to protest against evil christian domination in their recent past. Unfortunately, what they don't know is that they are being expressly manipulated to think that there is a parallel and to imagine that in India this same artform naturally evolved over time too - just like it had done in Europe - as a protest against domination. The reality is anything but: the situation in earlier church-controlled Europe is not comparable to Hindu India at all; and this style of art in India has actually unnaturally surfaced - or 'suddenly emerged' as Ramana explains - most opportunely. The west won't even suspect that MF Hussain and others are playing them: that such Indians have carefully selected to use exactly those triggers that Europeans and Americans will automatically respond to. Instead, for Europeans, Hussain's works would be seen as additional proof that Hindu culture is dominating India; it is a 'cry' from the world of painting, just like other Indian psecular artists celebrated in the west are understood to emit 'cries' about the same oppression in their works. For the west, all these 'indications' further underscore that secularism, minorities, freedom of expression are being oppressed and controlled in India - just like the Church had stifled Europe where it resulted in similarly articulated cries.

Meanwhile, it's all just a big lie. Only western people and their psecular enfants dans l'Inde recognise MFH's vapid pictures as art. (Whether Hussain can really draw in his secret life or not I don't know - but his public drawings are all severely pre-realistic. Since the late 19th, early 20th centuries, there were legitimate western movements that drew in purposefully unrealistic and simplistic ways to get their ideas across. MF Hussain has merely decided that he will do his damage via art and has precisely chosen to apply a type of art form that the west has an established culture and understanding of.)

The christoislamicommunists in India have strategically planned this. They know their whiny views are a minority at present - views which will take a few decades of media brainwashing to popularise in India. But, they also know they can form a majority for their position by getting help from outside India and appealing to the class of Indian wannabees.

Imagine the west as being whales, and these Indian psecularterrorists as being able to exactly mimic the whale cry for help. In this case, regular Indian psecularists are those who have deluded themselves into thinking they are whales too.
In order to demean Hinduism with impunity in India, the otherwise powerless Indian psecularists emit loud whale cries which draw the real whales by instinct who imagine that other whales are in distress. (This also immediately brings in the support of the Indian wannabees who think they're whales too and so respond to the same cries/to the sight of real whales.)
And we are stuck facing all of them now, but are at a disadvantage because we are unable to communicate in the same language to them about what's really going on.
In this pathetic analogy the chosen artform = the practised whale cry for help.

Contemporary painting and Indian politics - ramana - 05-26-2007

Thanks Husky for clarifying what I have been saying. Now that we know the roots of MFH's "crusade" what can be the counter. Can you do the honors and write it up for IF Journal and give some good graphics(already posted by Bodhi) to bring out the fakeness of MFH?
Thanks, ramana

BTW if any one saw his scrawls of Madhuri Dixit one would puke. It was those scrawls that tipped me about his shallowness and now hypocrisy.

Contemporary painting and Indian politics - Guest - 05-26-2007

Thanks Ramana and Husky for clarifying it for me. I had clearly not thought of it as that well thought-out scheme, nor understood the process behind it. But it certainly does appear as you say.

Ramana, if you remember this guy started off in 50s and became famous for 'horses' as his favourite theme. When did he started focusing on vulgar portrayal of Hindu deities? (what you called caveman scrawls). Brief historic perspective?

Contemporary painting and Indian politics - Guest - 05-26-2007

<b>In his own words - From the commie rag</b>
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>An artist and a movement </b>

<i>Any great change in a nation's civilisation begins in the field of culture</i>.


The water colours reproduced here were painted by M.F. Husain for this Special Issue of Frontline.

WE had our own parallel national movement. We were part of the Progressive Artists Group; there were five or six painters in Mumbai and a few in Calcutta. We came out to fight against two prevalent schools of thought in those days, the Royal Academy, which was British-oriented, <b>and the revivalist school in Mumbai, which was not a progressive movement</b>. These two we decided to fight, and we demolished them. The movement to get rid of these influences and to evolve a language that is rooted in our own culture was a great movement, and one that historians have not taken note of. It was important because any great change in a nation's civilisation begins in the field of culture. <b>Culture is always ahead of other political and social movements. </b>

From wiki entry, it says, he had painted those pictures in 70s and only 1996 they have gained the notoriety.

Contemporary painting and Indian politics - ramana - 05-26-2007

We are dealing with someone who knows what he is doing. He is not under anyones control. The liberal chatteratti don't know this language of discourse. He is their voice and not vice versa. He is right that art and culture give an early preview of the trends in society. About two decades. You can see from the links I posted.
I agree with all he says about modern Indian art form in comparison to the Western art.. Indian art has leapfroged the traditional Western European art. This article fills a lot of gaps in my knowledge.
The two schools he is talking about are- British Academy (classical landscape/portrait -see Nizam's gallery etc.., painting etc.) and the Revivalist (Ravi Verma Hindu imagery type). He must have taken on the Revivalist school hence his obsession with painting deriding pictures of Ravi Verma's subjects. So what he is rejecting is the British colonial legacy and the Hindu revival movement. He is a Naya Daur/Third Way type of intellectual holding fort in the 1950s in Bombay.

So using the prestige he has acquired he uses it to attack the major religion and culture of the land. Art is his weapon while the others on the Left are still stuck in text. MFH is bent on attacking the image of Indian society.
He is not doing it from a Islamic point of view. So to counter him as an Islamist is not going to get you anywhere for he is not. He is a watermelon- green on the outside but red inside. My own textual contribution to imagery.

The difficulty of countering MFH is people dont know what he is talking about unless you go through the education about Modernism. Its amazing that in the 1930-40s there were a group of Indians who were as modern as the best of them in the West.

I think these folks are the intellectual back bone of the JNU movement

I find his Ashoka Pillar painting in the 1997 very significant.

<img src='' border='0' alt='user posted image' />

That was the year of the United Front govt with fractured mandate and the Indian State represented by the Lion is scared on the pillar while looking at confident images of Indian working class people. Then came the NDA in its first govt in 1998 and we see the Indian state confident of itself once more.

Contemporary painting and Indian politics - ramana - 05-26-2007

Two inexpensive books to read published by NBT are:
1) Indian Painting by C. Sivaramamurti (Rs. 60)
2) Contemporary Art in India by Pran Nath Mago (Rs. 250/500)

The first book brings one up to speed with Indian painting since ancient times to colonial times. The latter covers last 150 years.

I am still in process of acquiring the latter book.

Then compare with Art and the Western World.

One notes that portraiture in the Western Christian world started with the Crusade encounter.

I don't see any critique of western art through Indian eyes. Maybe study of art was considered foo-foo subject and not jingo enough. But in my opinion art is a powerful weapon that can be used to bring about social change. The early Buddhists knew this and popularized the Katha style of dance to tell stories of social and religious change. This vehicle was adopted even by Russian Communists during the Tsarist days. But Indians lost the touch as usual.

Also look at the paintings on exotic india arts site

Contemporary painting and Indian politics - Hauma Hamiddha - 05-26-2007

Ramana- thanks for perspectives you have been bring up. It must be pointed out that the art of painting was a very aspect of the ancient Hindu. There is a shAstra known as chitra-kalA, in the form of the lectures of mArkaNDeya bhArgava on painting. This text discuss portraits and the Hindu formalism behind it. There were too forms of art in popular Hindu thought in the period of the mauryan and gupta regimes. These were the mankhas and the yamo-ghaNThas. The former depicted pauraNic and epic stories in the form of a series of illustrations and a narrator used to tell the story behind them: An amar-chitra katha of yore. The latter used to terrify people with depictions of the torments of the narakas to which one was believed to go for one's pApa-s. A proper hindu gentleman was supposed to have an appreciation of art as per many texts including the late mAnasollAsa. Sadly the role of picture art in pop society has since died out among Hindus. If there was a strong culture of art appreciation in the mainstream then it would have an opinion base to influence expression of artists.

Contemporary painting and Indian politics - ramana - 05-27-2007

The Sivaramamurti book will bring one up to speed with Indian art through the ages and the various schools of art. One needs to study the contemporary period. From MFH interview only eight guys changed the Indian art scene and stopped the Revivalist and British Academy schools. Wow! And on IF and BR we circumbulate around the issues and get nowhere. We even don't agree if there is a problem!

By concentrating on ancient and Mughal period most people are missing the changes which we are part of.

In the PG hostel in IITM my next door neighbor was an MTech in Elec. Engg and an artist to boot. He once painted on canvas a scene of the pale blue room door with his dark blue jeans hanging from the door corner. He called it a "View of Hostel Life at IITM". It was quite a hit but I didn't understand.
Later I thought about why it was such a hit. The blue jeans were Levis and showed the aspirations of most of us students which was to take the next flight to USA!

He joined BHEL in the turbine Division.

Contemporary painting and Indian politics - Guest - 05-27-2007

<!--QuoteBegin-Hauma Hamiddha+May 26 2007, 01:12 PM-->QUOTE(Hauma Hamiddha @ May 26 2007, 01:12 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->If there was a strong culture of art appreciation in the mainstream then it would have an opinion base to influence expression of artists.

I think the appreciation and resulting opinion-moulding strength still exists in the other vidhas of arts - music (vocal, dance, instrumental), folk story-telling (Ramalilas, Rahaslilas, bard-singing) joined lately by movies on Pauranic themes and now TV serials. In comparision to these, canvas-art is far behind now.