New bookmarks: Ila Pal's "Husain: Portrait of an Artist"
MF Husain was many things: curious boy from Pandharpur, painter of billboards, maker of toys, aesthete, the inveterate progressive artist he soon became, and later film-maker and style icon who walked about barefoot with a long brush in hand. A legend, in short.
Six years after first seeing him on a rainy day outside the Jehangir Art Gallery in Mumbai, Ila Pal met the star painter for the first time in 1961.
It was the beginning of a long and enriching association between an eager student of art and MF Husain – a journey that lasted fifty years. This book is a product of that intimate relationship.
Filled with anecdotes about his charisma, his sharp wit, his sense of wonder about the world at large and his insatiable hunger for love, this warm and personalised biography traces his evolution through his many avatars.
It attempts to unravel the enigma of MF, who is considered the master of contemporary Indian art, and the auctions of whose works at Christie’s and Sotheby’s changed the Indian art market forever.
It also delves into the artist’s exile from his homeland at the fag end of his life, exploring the question of creative licence in a climate where people’s sentiments are easily hurt and where censorship rules the roost like never before.
Husain: Portrait of an Artist gives us an up close and personal look at the life of a great painter who was hated and admired by millions alike – the one and only Maqbool Fida Husain.
‘This book is unique in that it gives you the life and art of MF Husain as seen through the eyes of a long and lasting friendship. Ila Pal knew Husain from the time she was an art student, and the friendship continued till his last days. The guru later becomes a family friend and shares many of his thoughts on life and on art. As a result, this biography carries material that one would not otherwise have access to. Rare photographs, a treasure trove of letters, direct quotes remembered and jotted down – these contribute to the richness of the publication. Family matters, friendships and loss of friendships, his beliefs about what constitutes art, all these find their place here. This book is a fine study on the life of a great artist.’
– Gieve Patel
Author profile: A self-taught painter, Ila Pal studied briefly at the JJ School of Art and worked with MF Husain before she had her first solo show in 1962. She has had numerous solo shows since, in places such as Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai; Chemould Art Gallery, Mumbai; Washington Art Association, Connecticut, USA; Clarksville Galleries, New York; Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai; and Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, besides participating in many prestigious group shows. She is the recipient of a Silver Medal and a Diploma at the International Exhibition of Women Artists at the Museum of Modern Art, Paris. Many charitable organisations and auction houses including Sotheby’s have auctioned her works.
Husain: Portrait of an Artist by Ila Pal | Hardback | Biography | 336 pp | Rs 699