Posted at 11:09 AM ET, 06/09/2011

Indian painter M.F. Hussain dies at 95 [PHOTOS]


Hussain poses in front of one of his paintings on March 13, 2003, during the launch of the Gajagamini Club — an exclusive art club — at his residence in Bangalore. (INDRANIL MUKHERJEE - AFP/Getty Images)
M.F. Hussain began his life in earnest as a Bollywood movie billboard artist and ended it in self-imposed exile in London. In the years between, he brought vivid colors and a freedom to the canvas not seen before in India, living by the motto that the confines of religion, caste, creed and color should never restrain a painter.

That philosophy led to his exile in 2006, after he painted a nude woman shaped like India’s map, called “Mother India,” which invoked threats by Hindu extremists.

To his death, Hussain garnered humble descriptions like “the bearded artist who loved to pad around barefoot” and soaring compliments like “the Picasso of India” in one breath.

In an opinion article in the Indian newspaper Mint, Salil Tripathi wrote shortly after Hussain’s exile:

As the nation’s chronicler, he has been a laureate, portraying the stark agony of a cyclone; a court jester, like when he painted Indira Gandhi as Durga astride a tiger; a cheerleader, celebrating the centuries of Sunil Gavaskar; an inventive exhibitionist, painting as Bhimsen Joshi sang, painting with Shah Rukh Khan, painting on the body of a woman. He revels in India’s gaudiness, its zeitgeist. He understands the philosophy of nirakara (formlessness), seeing through an idol, glimpsing what he thinks of as divine, and giving it a form that may outrage some, but which is hardly inconsistent with the Indian aesthetic.

On Thursday, Hussain died at the Royal Brompton hospital in London. He was 95.

Below, see some the works of India’s most sought-after painter:


A visitor looks at a huge Hussain painting called "Pieta" on Jan. 14, 2004, at the National Art Gallery in Bombay. (Sebastian D'Souza - AFP/Getty Images)


Hussain paints in celebration of Mother Teresa's beatification in Bombay on Oct. 18, 2003. (VIKAS KHOT - AFP/Getty Images)


Hussain poses in front of his 40-foot canvas “VIOLENCE” on March 25, 1999, at a show called “Darkness at Noon” in Bombay. (Sebastian D'Souza - AFP/Getty Images)

By  |  11:09 AM ET, 06/09/2011

 
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