M F HUSAIN:
Born 1915 in Maharashtra, Muqbool Fida Husain is a self-taught artist. At an early age he learnt the art of calligraphy and practiced the Kulfic khat with its geometric forms. He also learnt to write poetry while staying with an uncle in a madrasa in Baroda, an art that has stayed with him through his life. His early education was perfunctory but Husain's love of drawing was evident even at this stage. Whenever he got a chance he would strap his painting gear to his bicycle and drive out to the surrounding countryside of Indore to paint the landscape. In 1937 he reached Mumbai determined to become an artist, with hardly any money and lived m a cheap room in a by lane inhabited by pimps and prostitutes. Initially Husain apprenticed himself to a painter of cinema hoardings which he would paint with great dexterity perched on scaffolding sometimes in the middle of traffic. Husain was noticed for the first time in 1947 when he won an award at the annual exhibition of the Bombay Art Society. Subsequently he was invited by Souza to join the Progressive Artist's Group. A great deal of experimentation in the early years led to some remarkable works Re Between The Spider And The Lamp, Zameen and Man. By 1955 he was one of the leading artists in India and had been awarded the Padma Shri. He was a special invitee along with Pablo Picasso at the Sao Paulo Biennial in 1971. Along with several solo exhibitions he had major retrospectives in Mumbai in 1969, in Calcutta in 1973 and in Delhi in 1978. He has participated in many international shows which include Contemporary Indian Art, Royal Academy of Arts, London 1982; Six Indian Painters, Tate Gallery, London 1985; Modem Indian Painting, Hirschhom Museum, Washington 1986 and Contemporary Indian Art, Grey Art Gallery, New York 1986. In 1967 he won the Golden Bear at the International Film Festival at Berlin for his documentary Through the Eyes of a Painter and has made several short films since then. Husain was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1973, the Padma Vibhushan in 1989 and was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 1986. One of the most charismatic artists in India today, he is known for his emphatic understanding of the human situation and his speedy evocation of it in paint. The early evolution of his painterly language was overtaken by adventurous forays into installations and performance art. His experimentations with new forms of art are both unexpected and pioneering. Husain has studios in several cities in India but lives mainly in Mumbai.