Muqbool Fida Hussain

Muqbool Fida Hussain (1915 – 2011), popularly known as simply MF, was an Indian modernist painter who is said to have produced over 50,000 works of art in his career. His paintings depict a violent understanding of the human condition, which in some cases have led to controversy. M.F Hussein’s art was prolific in both theme and technique and put the Indian art-scene on the international map.

MF Hussain grew up in Sidhpur, Gujrat where he began his early education. His father, recognizing his son’s talent, got him apprenticeships to a tailor and later a draughtsman while encouraging him to develop his painting technique privately. After graduating from the JJ School of Art, MF painted hoardings for cinema houses in Mumbai. In 1947 prominent painter FN Souza invited Hussain to be part of a group of progressive artists known as the Progressive Artist’s Group, whose alliance nurtured Hussain’s paintings. MF’s painting are not confined to periods but they explored a definite Indian sensibility including Mother Teresa, the Ramayana and Mahabharata, Hindu deities, and M.K Gandhi.

The artist and his persona created much news around the world. MF went everywhere barefoot and only wore tailored suits. Some of his paintings have created controversy amongst Hindu nationalist groups that led to death threats and an eventual self-exile. Despite the surrounding controversy, MF Hussain is lauded as one of India’s greatest artists and has received accolades for his work such as the Padma Shri and Padma Vibhushan, and other international awards from the art community around the world.

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