New Delhi: Though disgruntled with the Indian Government’s security assurances for his safe return to the country, artist M.F. Husain says he is ready to come back the minute he receives an official statement from authorities.
Listen to Husain speak of his wish to return to the country and his present artistic output
But the artist has spent his four years in exile—split between London and Dubai — rather fruitfully. He has been working on creating large-scale artworks and installations (as large as 15-30 feet) for three international permanent collections, which he says would have been difficult to create in India because of “ridiculous tax issues and other complications”. There are plans to set up a museum dedicated to his work on the history of Indian civilization from Mohenjo-daro to Manmohan Singh in London. Another museum in Qatar will showcase canvases that document the history of the Arab civilization. His third, and dearest, project is on 100 years of Indian cinema. He hopes to finish work on all of these in the next two years.
Husain shares that he definitely wishes to return to his country, and that it’s just a matter of time before he does. “I’ve always said I’ll come back the minute things are sorted,” he says over the phone from Dubai. If things work out as per his expectations, the controversial artist might be in the country by December.
Artist MF Husain. HT City
The biggest cause of concern for the 94-year-old artist is that anyone can file a new F.I.R against him and take him to court, something that his health might not allow. “I understand that India is a democracy but these are the constraints of one,” says Husain.
He is mildly encouraged by the fact that the ministry has taken up his case but says “they have woken up very late”. What particularly disheartens him is the India Art Summit’s failure to acquire government support to showcase his works at the annual event in New Delhi two months ago. Organizers say that they tried all they could to garner state support to showcase the master’s works but on failing to acquire the same, they could not risk including his works. “There was totally silence on their (the government’s) front,” says Husain, apparently dejected.
The artist, who has acquired the epithet of the “Picasso of India” and received the country’s second highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan in 1991, believes that these are political tricks that have nothing to do with art or religion. He evokes examples such as Charlie Chaplin who was thrown out of the United States of America during the McCarthy era and Pablo Neruda who was exiled from Chile.