The painting was formerly in the collection of Madame Hanna Bekker Vom Rath
Frankfurter Kunstkabinett, July 1960
Husain was fascinated with horses from an early age. As a young boy his grandfather used to take him to the local farrier and told him stories about horses. These horses from myth and legend became the building blocks for one of the artist's most enduring themes.
In the current work, dated to 1959, Husain depicts a faceless figure who stills an energetic stallion while hailing the robust sun with a raised red palm. The interaction between these themes is timeless and yet intensely kinetic, suggesting the artist's belief that man, horse and sun are linked in a triumverate of power, life-force and energy. The figure's red palm is pivotal to the painting's composition; the horse and sun appear to respond to it.
Shiv Kapur writes, 'Some of Husain's symbols are drawn from folk art and are traditional. His manner of using them, however, while retaining the original impulses, takes them beyond their original simple meanings. The human hand for instance, an expressive symbol in Indian dance, recurs frequently in Husain's paintings. It is usally given an independent life, almost separate from the body to which it belongs. It occurs with mysytical markings on the palm, is lightly made, sometimes deeply shadowed, inclosed as though upon a secret.' (Shiv S. Kapur, Husain, Lalit Kala Akademi, 1961, p. vii).
The horse is considered a symbol of the sun and life-sustaining forces in Indian mythology, a concept that imbues both classical Indian art and Husain's own idiom. 'Against a strongly racing line as in the paintings with horses, flat interrupted surfaces of colour are used to arrest movement, place power on a leash as it were, thereby at once controlling and accentuating it. Colour itself is usually applied with a mixture of brush and knife, in swift strokes. The result of all this is a rich and vital art, an abstraction of power, movement and feeling in a rare balance.' (ibid., p. viii).
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