PROPERTY OF A NEW DELHI COLLECTION
Acrylic on canvas
67 3/8 x 39 3/4 in. (171 x 100.9 cm.)
Signed 'Husain' and further signed in Devanagari and Urdu lower right
'However global his vision may be, Husain's works remain largely Indian in subject and sentiment, and he repeatedly pays tribute to the rich artistic tradition of the country, by preserving the classical aspects of Indian art as seen through his contemporary interpretation of the past as well as his unique vision of the present.' (Richard Bartholomew, Husain, New York, 1969, p. 21)
Husain's works consistently bridge the past with the present through his treatment of the canvas and the primary subject. He was strongly influenced by the forms and postures of classical Indian sculpture and was challenged by how he could convert these three-dimensional forms onto a flat surface.
In the current work, Husain's use of bright, bold areas of colour to depict the single female musician has an impactful presence that fills the entire canvas. Rather than his strong line, here, it is bold colours that capture the beauty and strength of the figure. His radiant tones, often chosen to juxtapose paler hues against rich earth tones, highlight Husain's intuitive use of colour. The pale blue tones of the vertical veena the figure holds, also serves as a pictorial device that divides the canvas vertically into two halves.
From the 1960s onwards, Husain frequently painted musicians playing traditional Indian musical instruments, including the veena, the sitar and the sarod, to pay tribute to classical Indian art forms, be it temple sculpture, dance or Indian music. Similar to other works that refer to various Indian cultural traditions, these works capture a mood that acknowledges the art of the past, but in a relevant contemporary context. It also allowed Husain to further explore the idea of rasa or feelings and emotional states that music awakens in the listener. As Roshan Shahani explains, 'the vibrations of dance, music and Urdu poetry are caught in a jagged thrust of lines and colours. He can draw and paint with complete surrender to the sound and graphic representations of these modes. Musical rhythm or pure sound finds its way easily into the schemes of the paintings.' (Roshan Shahani, Let History Cut Across Me Without Me, New Delhi, 1993, p. 1)
The woman, like so many of Husain's female figures is '...given no landscape of time and place, no background except carefully worked tonal tensions. These figures have no drapery. They come clothed only in colour, naked except for a gay turban here, a hint of hair or jewellery there. They come from a territory of the mind, at one idea and living reality. The come from a territory, however recognisably Indian in its sensibility and symbolisation: contemplative, brooding, often heavy with the mystery of life.' (Shiv S. Kapur, Husain, Lalit Kala Contemporary Series, New Delhi, 1961, p. vii)
Her Indian sensibilities are further emphasised through the presence of the lotus flower emerging out of a stylised water body at the upper left, and the dancing peacock that occupies the right half of the painting.
This painting has been recently cleaned. The colours of the original are slightly brighter and richer than the catalogue illustration. Overall good condition.
About The Artist:
MAQBOOL FIDA HUSAIN (1913-2011)