New Delhi: Four of MF Husain's paintings were to be shared with the public after many years at the 3rd India Art Summit, the country's largest art fair. By evening of Day 1, the Delhi Art Gallery was forced to take off the paintings by the organisers. Both parties had received numerous threats by individuals and groups that believe Husain is anti-Hindu and anti-national.
Ashish Anand, Director, Delhi Art Gallery said, "We have received around 20 odd emails from various groups - from Bombay and Pune and so has the India Art Summit. So they are fearing that there could be a stampede and so they are wanting the safety of the people. Even the Police Commissioner told me that it is perfect, like there is no problem, there is enough security at the summit. We are still in touch with the organisers so there is still a possibility that we may be able to show Hussain's paintings.
Neha Kirpal said, "We have not heard from the government as far as support they may be able to extend to the art fair. I haven't had any formal note from the government in any of these fronts."
Controversy that started in 1996 over his depictions of Hindu gods peaked in 2006. The artist not only had various cases against him but was given numerous death threats by right wing groups. Living in exile since 2006 and and now a Qatar national, the artist has not returned.
Arun Vadhera said, "The fact is that he is the captain of the Indian Art and without him the Summit is incomplete."
Whether it is the gallery, the organisers or the art fraternity, the general sentiment has been one of sadness and helplessness at showcasing India's biggest star. India is still scared to display his works; can the government help?