MF Hussain: So what was he really?

“My Lord. Here are the news dispatches. Someone’s dead.”

“Oh really? Anyone we know?”

“Sort of my Lord.  A painter passed away, M F Hussain. Some are calling him India’s  best and mourning the loss. We should also put out an official statement.”

“Do I like his art?”

Battle of Ganga and Jamuna by M. F. Husain

“You visited his gallery once my Lord. I quote from the comments card you filled –

If an explanation was not written below I would have had no idea what I am looking at or which side is up.

P.S – it looks like stick figures that my dead grandmother painted.

P.S.S. – Report for re-education on art.

P.S.S.S. –  I am having this gallery burned down. Next time paint some clothes as well.

P.S.S.S.S. – you cant draw but I likes the nice colours you used. vaarry nice.

“Well he should have learned to draw before declaring himself an artist…”

“But my Lord his skill in painting is undeniable. Anyway Art today crosses from a mere visual into emotional, mental or surreal worlds.

Creating a realistic painting was considered the pinnacle of skill in the days before photography. Now art has risen beyond mere mastery of light and shadow into symbolism and multiple interpretations.”

“So the stick figures and a profound lack of drawing skills is a sign of a good painting?”

“It’s not that simple my Lord. It all depends on what the painting makes you feel…”

“It makes me feel he should probably take some drawing lessons…”

“You are taking things too literally my Lord. Its more of what the painting symbolizes…”

“That he can’t paint and should have stuck to writing?”

“Not quite my Lord. In post colonial modernism art, it goes beyond mere skill with a paint brush. You need to see the patterns within, the hidden idea so to speak.”

“Record Keeper, by that logic someone could just hurl some paint on the canvas, or even make it look like vomit. Then wait for art critics to insist that it has a deeeeeeep hidden meaning. Then that ‘hidden meaning‘ can be exchanged for a mountain of cash via gullible rich fool. ”

“Err…”

This has already happened hasn’t it?

“Err…irrelevant details my Lord. The intelligentsia are hailing the man in any case. They feel his  paintings are epic.”

“A painter whose artwork only the privileged rich and elite could either access or purchase is loved by the intelligentsia for his  depth and awesomeness? What a radical departure for them! They must have really, really searched their souls before reaching the independent and totally unique decision.”

“Har de har har my Lord. Shall we send our condolences?”

“Send a message saying since he died, we will commute the hanging.”

“Will do my Lord.”

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