Maqbool Fida Husain (b. 1915)
- Maqbool Fida Husain
- Signed in Devanagari and dated '67' upper left
- Oil on canvas
- 39 1/2 by 29 1/2 in. (100.3 by 74.9 cm.)
In late 1967 Husain travelled to Kerala and produced a series of works in response to the lush vegetation and wildlife of the region. Two works from 1967 titled Naga Naginis I & II with figures painted in deep blues, red and oranges set onto pale backgrounds are strikingly similar in compositional structure and palette to the present work from the same year. In those canvases the figures are sensuous female nudes but the prana mudra or healing hand gesture from the yogic tradition appears in Naga Nagini II and the oval form of the hooded cobra with forked tongue appears in Naga Nagini I and both symbols are reworked into the current work which appears to be the male counterpoint to the other two works. The snake, a traditional symbol of fertility in the classical Indian tradition is thus reworked into Husain's own unique symbolism through a series of inter-related canvases.
‘Husain’s metaphor is rich and of great expressiveness. It brings a wide sweep to his way of looking at things, to his many approaches to reality. His symbols and represented objects are often startling in juxtaposition because they are drawn from such far reaches of artistic memory. Dark, intuitive sometimes traditional symbols are cast within contemporary design and given meanings that seem valid for this and every other time.’ (Shiv S. Kapur, Husain, Lalit Kala Akademi, 1961, p. 1).