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Why MF Husain was shown the door at Delhi art fair

Last updated on: January 21, 2011 13:58 IST

Why MF Husain was shown the door at Delhi art fair

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Works of art by Indian artist M F Husain, who has been living in exile for the past five years, have been taken off from the ongoing Indian Art Summit following threats from various groups.

Three large canvas paintings by 93-year-old Husain were removed from display from the Summit, which began with an exclusive VIP preview in New Delhi on Thursday and will open for pubic viewing from Friday.

"We have received several threatening emails and phone calls from various groups from Mumbai and Pune. We have had a lot of protection from the police and have our own security but organisers feel that there could be a stampede and incidents of vandalism when the fair opens for the public and so decided to remove the works of Husain," Ashish Anand, Director, Delhi Art Gallery, said.

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Photographs: Courtesy India Art Summit
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Why MF Husain was shown the door at Delhi art fair

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Saffron groups have in the past protested against Husain's alleged blasphemy of Hindu deities.

The gallery had recently re-launched its flagship space in Delhi with a show "Continuum" and a book launch on the Progressive Artists group.

"The show was extended to the Art Summit and since Husain is part of the six artists of the Progressive Art group, we had displayed works by all the six artists at our space in the Summit too," said a spokesperson of the Delhi Art Gallery.



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Why MF Husain was shown the door at Delhi art fair

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"We were pleased to see that one of the preview galleries had shown works of Husain. However, due to several threats and security reasons, the works unfortunately cannot continue to be on display on the public days of the fair," the organisers of the India Art Summit said in a statement released on Friday.

"We are very disappointed at these developments, but our first priority will always be the safety interests of art works and people visiting the art fair from around the world," it said.

The first edition of the India Art Summit in 2008 had stirred up a controversy when it did not display works by Husain following threats from right-wing Hindu groups.



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The situation was the same in 2009, the second edition of the Summit when organisers expressed their inability to offer protection to works of the artist deterring exhibiting galleries.

The Delhi Art Gallery had for the preview on Thursday displayed three canvases and a watercolour on Ganesha by Husain.

One of the canvas 'Krishna' featured a self portrait of the artist and his trademark horses.



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