M F Husain, The Great Indian Artist, dies in exile

Often known as the Picasso of India, Maqbool Fida Husain, died away from home on a self-imposed exile, at a hospital in London on Thursday morning. He was 95 years old.

Husain is reported to have been suffering from respiratory problems for the last four years. However, his youthful spirit stopped him from putting his brush down till the very end. In fact, when gallery owner Dadiba Pundole visited him in London a night before his death, Husain was reportedly sitting up and making doodles on his bedside notepad.

He was last seen in public whizzing around in a wheelchair, giving orders for the completion of his last commissioned series for the royal family of Qatar.

Husain's family plans to bury him at a London cemetery. His youngest son, Owais Husain, sent a text saying "thank you for your condolences", but did not want to comment further.

"It's a pity that a painter as important as Husain had to die outside his own country because of a crowd of miscreants," rues fellow painter Akbar Padamsee.

Husain, who was once a member of the Rajya Sabha and had been awarded the Padma Vibhushan, was living in self-imposed exile since 2006, following a series of legal cases and death threats against him over his paintings depicting Hindu goddesses in the nude. In 2010, he accepted Qatari citizenship after surrendering his Indian passport.

"I've known Husian since the 1940s, he was always impatient to move on to his next project. He would finish a painting within an hour and within the next half-an-hour he would have sold the work, after which we would go for chai and bun-maska at his favourite Kyani's café in Mumbai," recalls Padamsee.

Husain was known for his incisive line and vibrant canvases, of horses, women, nations and iconic figures like Mother Teresa, as well as his eccentric films on muses Madhuri Dixit and Tabu. He was one of the founder members of the Bombay Progressive Artist Group.

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