Maqbool Fida Husain, better known as MF Hussain, was a renowned Indian artist and painter who also directed a number of acclaimed films as well. Born in September 1915 in Pandharpur, Husain was among the founders of The Progressive Artists Groups of Bombay (PAG) – a body of artists having a modernist outlook majorly influenced by the major changes occurring in India after the post-partition scenario.
His schooling in regards to painting and artistry began when he was admitted in the J.J. School of Arts in Mumbai at the age of 20. Though best known for his contribution in the field of arts, Husain also produced and directed a number of films, including: Through The Eyes of a Painter, Gaja Gamini, Pehla Sitara and Meenaxi: A Tale of Three Cities.
His film Through The Eyes of a Painter, received the National Film Award for Best Experimental Film in 1967 whereas Meenaxi: A Tale of Three Cities was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004. At home, he was awarded with a number of prestigious titles, including: Padma Shiri (1966), Padma Bhushan (1973) and Padma Vibhushan (1991).
Husain became a subject to intense controversy as a result of some of his obscene paintings in which he depicted various Hindu deities as nude. He received death threats, faced intense criticism and even legal action for his artwork despite the fact that his paintings were being sold for millions of dollars at various auctions, making him India’s highest paid painter.
From 2006 onwards, Husain lived most of his life in self-imposed exile. He was given Qatari nationality in 2010 as he abandoned his Indian passport afterwards. In Doha, Qatar’s royal family asked him to work on two important projects, including that on the history of Arab civilisation and the history of the Indian civilisation.
MF Husain breathed his last on June 9, 2011 as he died of a heart attack in London’s Royal Brompton Hospital. He was laid to rest at the Brookwood Cemetery.
Despite of the backlash he faced at home, Husain always had a longing to return back to India.