Vice President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were among a host of leaders who on Thursday condoled the death of artist M F Husain, describing him as a "legend" whose passing away is a "national loss".
Maintaining that Husain "slipped" while drawing paintings of Hindu deities, Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray said, "Damage may have been caused to modern art due to his demise."
"Damage may have been caused to modern art due to his demise. Thats all. May Allah give him peace," he said, adding, "As an artist, everyone has a domain and Husain handled his modern art with zeal. However, he 'slipped' while drawing paintings of Hindu gods and goddesses."
In his condolence message, Vice President Hamid Ansari said Husain was a keen observer of national evolution, which was reflected in his art.
"I am deeply grieved to learn about the sad demise of Maqbool Fida Husain, a legend of art of our times. To most Indians, he came to represent modern Indian art. Besides his enormous achievements in painting and other art forms, Husain was a keen observer of our national evolution which was reflected in his art," he said.
Ansari noted that Husain captured public imagination with his portrayal of important personalities and events and his death is an immense loss to the nation and to the artistic community. "He will always be remembered for his love of India that was reflected in his paintings," he said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condoled the death of the 95-year-old painter, terming it as a "national loss" while Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar said Husain's death has created a "vacuum in the creative world".
Describing Husain as an "eminent and respected" personality, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said his artworks have been displayed with great interest for public viewing.
"He was invited to India ...I do not remember on how many occasions. It's very unfortunate that narrow minded people look at art and creativity with same perspective, but the majority of Indian people have never supported their views," Soni said when asked about protests against him by right-wing activists.
Soni said it was true that Husain got displeased at many instances and he did express his displeasure, but the government and many NGos tried to reason out with him.
"As far as change in citizenship is concerned, I myself listened to one of his interviews where he cited work and lifestyle as reasons for changing citizenship. I don't think he stopped loving his country," she said.
Corporate Affairs Minister Murli Deora said, "Husain was a great artist who was known to me for the last 35 years. He was a noble soul... a very humble person at heart."
Deora, whose official residence in New Delhi is adorned with several paintings of the celebrated artist, said, "He was a brilliant painter who revolutionised modern art".
CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury described Husain as one of India's foremost artists and creative personalities who contributed to art to take forward the syncretic civilisation that India is.
"It is tragic that during his last years, he was forced to live outside India because of relentless campaign against him by the communalists. We convey heartfelt condolences to his son and painter Shamshad and other relatives," he said.
Condoling the death of the artist, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee described him as "a unique painter whom the world will miss forever".
Banerjee said though Husain courted controversy over some of his paintings and many did not like some of his works, "as an admirer of Husain's paintings, I accord full honour to him. He carved a niche for himself in the minds of common men".
Condoling the death of the artist, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted, "I will never forget the privilege of watching you paint in Sanawar (Shimla) all those years ago."
Remembering Husain as a towering personality, JD(U) president Sharad Yadav said the artist remained at the epicentre of the painting world. In his death, he said, the country has not only lost a diamond in the galaxy of painters but also a true statesman.