Maqbool Fida Husain (b. 1915)
- Maqbool Fida Husain
- Signed in Devanagari upper left and printed 'VEENA 1968/ oil, 30x40/ DDP' on a gallery label on reverse
Oil on canvas
- 30 by 40 in. (76 by 101.8 cm.)
From the end of the 1950s to the late 1960s Husain painted a series of works related to classical Indian music and dance. The series is recognised as one of his most iconic statements, as the series incorporates so many of the artist’s most recognisable themes and symbols. Ragamala paintings in the classical tradition are visual interpretations of Indian musical modes, each Raga relating to a specific emotion. The moods of lovers and the precise erotic flavors of each meeting are expressed through color, form and symbols that themselves relate to classical Indian music and poetry. 'This approach accords with the Indian belief in the interdependence of art forms. Ancient treatises enjoin the dancer to dance with the song in her throat and the dancing figure is a prime motif in traditional Indian sculpture...in their intertwined and dissolving lines he [Husain] sought the expressive grace of musical notes.' (Richard Bartholemew and Shiv S. Kapur, Husain, New York, 1971, p. 42).
Husain’s paintings from this period are not formalistic. The figures, postures and symbols are drawn from the artist’s own visual library and then reworked and re-animated in new ways, twisting old meanings or reinventing meanings for a contemporary audience. This process is not merely derivative, traditional forms from classical Indian sculpture, miniature painting or tribal and folk art are absorbed into the artist’s consciousness and then adapted before manifesting themselves in his own paintings. Individually these new paintings are not intended to represent a concluding statement on traditional forms but are part of an ongoing process that fulfils his own need to articulate what he has experienced. Even within the broad spectrum of Husain’s work, his visual and metaphorical associations evolve naturally over time so that his own iconic symbols are constantly evolving and reinvented to suit new moods and artistic modes of expression.
'Veena Player has a crescendo of passionate red leading off into a diminuendo of yellows browns, and the blue of the veena itself thrusting diagonally across the composition. The vigorous figure of the Veena player is outlined with an econamy of line, the whole painting a dynamic and harmonious fusion of theme, form and color. In comparison Sitar Player [lot 37] with its female figure and dominant blues comes as a cool counterpoint.' (Richard Bartholemew and Shiv S. Kapur, Husain, New York, 1971, p. 52).