Moments with the Man

Moments with the Man

If he were alive,MF Husain would have turned 100 today. We ask friends of the veteran artist to recall their most cherished memories of him on his second death anniversary.

I remember Husain everyday and miss him all the time. We first met at the Bombay Art Society’s Golden Jubilee exhibition where our works were being showcased. Everyone noted,‘Husain was a painter to be watched’. It’s also where I saw his work and he saw mine. He later visited me at my room at the Chateau Windsor and borrowed a book,Clive Bell’s Art. He lost the book,but I got one of his paintings in return. It was a painting of a mother and child,which was infinitely more valuable. I still have it. We used to always correspond in Urdu. He was like a family member,who shared an independent relationship with my father.

Krishen Khanna,artist

As a 19-year-old in 1974,I came across an advertisement in the newspaper about a group exhibition of young artists,where Husain was selecting works. I hesitantly sent three canvases and all got selected. Husain was present at the opening,but I was too reluctant to introduce myself. The next two years I struggled to sell my work in Delhi,and finally went to Mumbai to explore the market. After my train arrived in Mumbai,I spent the night putting up my work at the Jehangir Nicholson Gallery. Next morning,I entered to see Husain taking pictures of my work with his daughter Raisa. He bought a work titled Custodians of the Law,based on the rape case of Maya Tyagi. He also got Kali Pundole to visit the exhibition and he picked a few works,as did Kekoo Gandhy and members of the Godrej family. Years later,I was extremely touched when I saw my work at Husain’s Bangalore museum. He always encouraged young artists and was a gentleman.

Arpana Caur,artist

For the first time,he was painting on huge canvases,which had digitally printed photographs of the directors and stars that he had collaged. Having started out painting cinema hoardings in Bombay in the ’40s,it was only natural that he would return to that subject towards the end of his life. This was shot in his flat in Dubai in 2007. When he took us out to his favourite noodle restaurant in a big hotel mall that evening,he looked saintly wearing a long robe. A young Indian couple recognised him and came over to touch his feet. Then they held out their newborn baby and wanted Husain to bless him. That’s when I realised he had already become a saint — maybe our first artist-saint.

Ram Rahman,photographer