An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Voyeur MF Hussain's "Bharat Mata" is a "work of art": says Indian Supreme Court

This week in a landmark judgment of its sort, the Supreme Court termed MF Hussain’s painting of “Bharat Mata” (or Indian Goddess) in nude as a “work of art”.

The 92 year old painter – who lives in a self imposed exile in Dubai is very happy (as I am sure are many of his supporters, amongst them the activists from the secularists brigade) and feels that finally the highest court in his homeland has understood his definition of art.

As the story goes, this is the triumph of “art” and its senstivity. And we are to believe that the old heart of MG Hussain beats persistently for art and its license.

Given that as his motivation – art and its abundant freedom – I was pretty sure that he would have defended the Danish Cartoonist who drew Mohammad’s cartoons. Specially because he would have understood the guy’s pain! And since he was bang in the center of Islamic world – Dubai – he could have made a HUGE difference with his treatise and discussion on artistic sensibility.

But that is what I believed! The reality – zilch! Not even a whimper!

Artistic sensibility should be practiced and touted by those who believe in it with their WHOLE existence! Like it was oxygen. If anybody was deprived of it.. the entire Art world could die! THAT is how the artistic freedom should be defended and fought for!

But for people like MF Hussain it was NOT about artistic freedom, but rather about publicity.. about using the emotions and hurt to people who believed otherwise to create a market! It was never about the oxygen.. it was about the spectacular effect of his sparks that he used to burn someone’s heart and then make money out of it!

I am FOR artistic license. PERIOD. Anybody has right to make anything as art. BUT then I believe ANYTHING! And if I defend Danish Cartoons, I am duty bound to defend Hussain’s paintings itself!

But, unfortunately, I cannot defend MF Hussain! He painted those pictures not as an artist – but as a voyeur to begin with! Otherwise, he would stood on his rooftop in Dubai and shouted hoarse to defend the Danish Editor and newspaper – which he clearly forgot!!

So, irrespective of what people say, Hussain is NOT an artist – but a voyeur – for he himself demeans the artistic freedom and the criticality of it!

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4 Comments
  1. morris says

    I am surprised that SC said it is a work of art. What made them epert in determining what is art. They simply should have said he is free to express whatever he wishes. Simply a question of Freedom of expression. Similarly, media ahould be free to publish Danish cartoons. This is silly. What is art should be determined by SC. I do not understand.

  2. morris says

    I am surprised that SC said it is a work of art. What made them epert in determining what is art. They simply should have said he is free to express whatever he wishes. Simply a question of Freedom of expression. Similarly, media ahould be free to publish Danish cartoons. This is silly. What is art should be determined by SC. I do not understand.

  3. Rajesh H says

    MF Hussains has at worst shown his lack of discretion and social responsibility in choosing to paint those icons in nude that we Indians and Hindus revere . When a work of art has the potential to hurt communal sentiments, it is upto the Censorship Board to intervene. An artists should be severely censured but his life should not be threatened – at least not in my country, India, that I love so dearly. The controversy is being exploited by political parties, bigots and fanatics in a manner that is exactly equal and opposite to radical Islam’s “fatwa”. We Indians need to hold us to higher standard of conduct. We need to change others by being change agents first. Let us not get caught up in this negative propaganda by fundamentalist. To quote Bible “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”.

    MF Hussain is a great artist with a cetain predisposition to painting things nude. It’s obvious that he’s not a prude but then it happens to be his art for which he has gotten international acclaim. Let us not disparage a great 92 year old artist by mixing art with religion or politics. It’s time Indian welcome him back in India respectfully. The protestors should know that in our Hindu religion, it is a virtue to forget and forgive.

  4. Rajesh H says

    MF Hussains has at worst shown his lack of discretion and social responsibility in choosing to paint those icons in nude that we Indians and Hindus revere . When a work of art has the potential to hurt communal sentiments, it is upto the Censorship Board to intervene. An artists should be severely censured but his life should not be threatened – at least not in my country, India, that I love so dearly. The controversy is being exploited by political parties, bigots and fanatics in a manner that is exactly equal and opposite to radical Islam’s “fatwa”. We Indians need to hold us to higher standard of conduct. We need to change others by being change agents first. Let us not get caught up in this negative propaganda by fundamentalist. To quote Bible “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”.

    MF Hussain is a great artist with a cetain predisposition to painting things nude. It’s obvious that he’s not a prude but then it happens to be his art for which he has gotten international acclaim. Let us not disparage a great 92 year old artist by mixing art with religion or politics. It’s time Indian welcome him back in India respectfully. The protestors should know that in our Hindu religion, it is a virtue to forget and forgive.

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