THE HORSE AND THE CAMEL
THE HORSE AND THE CAMEL
PROPERTY FORMERLY IN AN ITALIAN COLLECTION
Oil on canvas
21 3/4 x 18 1/2 in. (55 x 47 cm.)
Signed 'HUSAIN' lower right and inscribed and printed 'India 1219 / Donated by the Indian artist M.F. Husain / to the "United Nations Appeal for Children."' on one label and 'HUSAIN M.F. / INDIA / IL CAVALLO E IL CAMMELLO / 50.000 34-17' on a Mostra Internazionale U.N.A.C label on reverse
The current work is reminiscent of many elements of Indian artistic folk traditions, such as street theatre, puppetry and wooden toys. Although undated, it appears to belong to the body of work that Husain produced between 1948 and 1954. Other works from this period include Marathi Women, Children in a Basket and Dolls Marriage. At this early stage of his career, the relationship between the artist and his childhood is key to the understanding of these paintings. Husain explained that he was searching for a childlike 'purity of feeling' in his work, but beyond the desire to create truly authentic works, the wooden toys influenced him in a more fundamentally artistic manner. In the same way as Picasso had been influenced by the abstract forms of tribal art, Husain absorbed the colours and forms of the brightly coloured traditional Indian toys to create the building blocks of his early modernist vocabulary.
In addition to the inspiration of Indian toys, there is a sense that various elements of playing cards may have likewise registered with the artist at an unconscious level, for his composition is scattered with the decorative elements of diamonds and spades, and bold linear forms in profile. In reference to these early paintings, Husain stated,'my paintings, drawings and the recent paper works have been directly influenced by my experience of traditional Indian dolls, paper toys - shapes galore. The experience of being with them, and the inspiration to create them are inseparable. A painter is a child in his purity of feeling - for only then he creates with authenticity of being.'(Husain quoted in Ayaz S. Peerbhoy, Paintings of Husain, Bombay, 1955, dust cover)
The reference to childhood may have held particular importance for Husain when creating the current painting, as he originally donated the work to raise funds for the United Nations Appeal for Children. The United Nations Appeal for Children, created in 1947 through a resolution passed by the General Assembly of the United Nations, resulted in a massive outpouring of donations from low-level non-governmental organisations around the world. The Appeal was recognised as the first example in world history where there was international co-operation at the popular level on a global scale, and its cause, no doubt, would have appealed to Husain's own popularist sensibilities.
'Husain's paintings of the post-Delhi phase are reminiscent of the toys which were his childhood companions, but created on a different level of consciousness. The dolls have grown into full maturity they have shed their clay bodies, to become a pattern of colour harmony. The colours are bold and contrasted in a balance to deepen the mystery of form.' (Ayaz S. Peerbhoy, Paintings of Husain, Bombay, 1955, introductory essay)
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About The Artist:
MAQBOOL FIDA HUSAIN (1913 - 2011)