India’s most famous painter died of old age at age 95 while in exile in London. Maqbool Fida Husain is referred to by many of his countrymen as the “Picasso of India”. Many of his canvas wall art depicted images in a combination of traditional Indian style and Cubism.
According to the artist’s close friend of 40 years, Munna Zaveri, the artist died last Thursday, June 9 at the Royal Brompton hospital in London. According to Zaveri, Husain was hospitalized for some time and was supposed to return home till his condition suddenly worsened right before his death.
Husain’s canvas wall art sold for millions of dollars in international art markets. His paintings depicting naked Hindu goddesses angered hard-liners who attacked his home and vandalized his exhibits. Gallery owners feared repercussions of displaying his work. Husain was eventually forced to flee his home country on his own will.
Husain left Mumbai in 2006 to move to Dubai and later moved to London. In 2010, Husain became a Qatar citizen. Husain was famous for walking around barefoot and carrying a paintbrush like a riding crop.
Husain started painting for commercial billboards and cinema hoardings and became one of India’s top creative artists in the 1930s. In 1989, Husain was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India’s 2nd highest civilian honor. He was nominated into the upper house of parliament in 1986.
Husain was a member of the Progressive Artists Group, a group of artists that broke tradition to create avant-garde art. His death was mourned by artists and political friends alike. “He put Indian art on the international map” said Anjolie Ela Menon, a leading Indian artist.