M.F. Husain’s The battle of Ganga and Yamuna
In a letter to Christie’s, the Indian American Intellectual Forum, which has joined hands with Hindu Janjagruti Samiti on the campaign against Husain, said the artist has gained ignominy and notoriety in India by painting several Hindu gods and goddesses in derogatory forms. As part of Christie’s New York auction March 20 of modern and contemporary art from South Asia, Husain’s paintings are expected to fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars. One of them, “The Battle of Ganga and Yamuna” is estimated to rake in $600,000-$800,000. The forum president, Narain Kataria, has also sent a power point presentation to Christie’s, highlighting “Husain’s deliberate distortion and degradation of Hindu culture”. “Seven cases have been registered against him and six courts have issued arrest warrants against him. More than 28,000 people have signed a petition condemning Husain for his malicious attempts to vilify Hindus,” Kataria claimed. He added that Husain stood “condemned by the Indian Parliament for painting Mother India in the nude”. It was thus unbecoming, Kataria told Christie’s, on the part of the reputed art gallery to associate with Husain.
Let us suppose for a moment that I understand the position on the Hindu extremists in India who are responsible for the exile of an artist. at what point do they cease having jurisdiction over his works? Not content with already exiling the artist they now feel a need to try to make him a pariah in other countries – especially one that is well known for it’s laws on freedom of expression, speech and religious freedom.
Christie’s has certainly never been shy about some of it’s more controversial auctions and this one appears to be no different. because Christie’s understands the concept of freedom of expression. I also suggest that they understand the concept that controversy sells as well.. Thanks to his beliefs, artworks and subsequent exile, MF Husain is now very hot on the primary and secondary markets. while I am sure that isn’t the reason for his controversial works, it can’t hurt. I wonder if the extremists realize that they are fueling his prices and his demand by creating more controversy?