PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE LATE BADRIVISHAL PITTI
Oil on canvas laid on board
48 x 48 1/4 in. (121.8 x 122.5 cm.)
Husain enjoyed painting famous personalities, be they actors, politicians, literary figures or musicians. Given his tendency to paint impulsively and quickly, he would often paint landmark events soon after they occurred, lending his works an immediacy that is often beyond the purview of an artist’s canvas. Besides accurately painting their physical likeness, he was able to capture a certain je ne sais quoi for each of his subjects that resonated with a deeper symbolic meaning for what they each represented.
Husain was deeply committed to India’s freedom struggle and had attended several rallies where Gandhiji had spoken. He was extremely motivated by his speeches, and had a deep abiding respect for what he was trying to achieve. Rather than use the more typical vertical format for a standing figure, Husain has executed the current work in an unusual square frame. Despite his frail stature, the freedom fighter is shown with width and volume, reinforcing the notion that he is steadfast in his purpose.
The posture he has chosen is ubiquitous with the Dandi March of 1930 when Gandhiji carried out a non-violent protest to oppose the British tax levied on salt produced locally. He walked briskly for twenty-four days, covering more than ten miles a day, supported by his wooden staff and protected by a simple white cotton cloth around his chest. It is an indelible image in the minds of most Indians, representing a landmark moment in India’s struggle for freedom.
According to Susan Bean, 'In his drive to create an Indian contemporary art, M.F. Husain has become a master of myth, not only portraying deities and episodes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana, but in projecting historical figures into the transcendent realm of the mythic. His "Gandhi", for example, shows his subject larger than life, wearing his signature loincloth and holding his staff, but with a featureless haloed visage that conveys no individual identity. In this painting we are looking at a person, a saint, a demigod who has surpassed history, whose significance is timeless...His "Mother Teresa" series similarly uses her distinctive habit and her hands to effect a transformation of the historical to the mythic, the mortal to the eternal.' (Susan Bean, 'Now, Then, Beyond: Time in India's Contemporary Art,' Contemporary Indian Art: Other Realities, Marg, Mumbai, 2002, p. 48)
About The Artist:
MAQBOOL FIDA HUSAIN (1913 - 2011)