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MF Husain:
Early Masterpieces, 1950s - 70s




February 5 - March 26, 2010
Pembroke Hall

9:00am - 5:00pm Monday - Friday

The Year of India, the Cogut Center for the Humanities and David Winton Bell Gallery present the exhibition MF Husain: Early Masterpieces, 1950s–70s, drawn from the collection of Brown alumna Amrita Jhaveri '91.

An opening reception will be held on February 5, from 5-7pm. A specialist in twentieth-century Indian Art and the author of A Guide to 101 Modern and Contemporary Indian Artists, Amrita Jhaveri will present a lecture on MF Husain and Indian Modernism, on March 22, at 5pm. The exhibition is generously funded by Jindal South West.

The Year of India explores India and its dramatic rise on the world stage, through academic conferences and cultural events. One of the most recognized figures in India art, the 94-year-old artist Maqbool Fida Husain has been instrumental in the rise of modernism in India and the introduction of contemporary Indian art onto an international stage.  As a young man, Husain incorporated western styles, drawn from the work of Picasso and Braque, with Indian subjects (Hindu, Muslim, and secular) to create a distinctly Indian modernist art. 

Husain’s paintings and prints are associated with his cultural roots—steeped in Indian visual culture, as well as social and religious traditions—and demonstrate his diverse influences, from India’s sensuous ancient sculpture to the colors of Rajathani miniature painting and the lines and forms of Pablo Picasso and George Braque.

Focusing on Husain’s early works (through twelve paintings created between 1954 and 1971), the current exhibition provides a view into the artist’s first manifestations of many favorite subjects: life on the streets, woman and horse (together and apart), and mythological and religious personages. Amusement in the Street and The Puppet Dancers depict forms of street entertainment. 

Virile horses, depicted in full gallop or rearing with heads thrown back, are a leitmotif in Husain’s work. Chariot of the Sun God depicts the seven horses that draw the Sun God chariot across the sky.  The painting in oil and Chinese lacquer was created after the artist’s trip to China in 1953, where he learned and experimented with the ancient technique.

Husain’s interest in mythology is represented in the exhibition by two works. Draupadi portrays the heroine of the epic Mahabharata.  A powerful story that continues to inspire people today, the Mahabharata is the tale of two sets of cousins: the five Pandava brothers and the hundred Kauravas.  Draupadi was married to all five brothers, who fought their cousins over the possession of the kingdom.  In the painting, she is represented as a large female figure with her husbands depicted on her body in miniature.  The painting is one of some twenty-nine that were created for the São Paulo Biennale in 1971.  Husain and Picasso were the only artists to be specially invited to the Biennale.

To read the press release on this exhibit, click here.

For a copy of the poster, click here.