The very essence of Indian aesthetics is the coexistence of all the essential art forms: dance, music, sculpture and painting. The rasika or the connoisseur cannot truly appreciate one without the others.
Similarly, a painter must understand the concept of three dimensional elements – the concept of sculpture, for example, which implies an understanding of dance and body movements, which in turn relates to rhythm, or tal, and music in turn to vocal sound. The strongest focus expressed in the form of art is music. The ragaor musical melody is a symbol of the 'colour' of the mind – the mood and emotions that create a language that is both visual and tonal.
This particular painting is on the idea of sound. It is profound but easy and accessible at the same time. The viewer is intrigued by this triptych. The charm of Hussain's paintings is the easy visual appeal they have to any viewer. There is a deep profundity in this work but it does not come in the way of the viewer’s understanding, appreciation, or individual interpretation of his works. ITC Hotels is privileged indeed to own and exhibit this work in its hotel.
In a span of several years, Hussian has done a series of paintings on several subjects: major cities, the Ramayana and Mahabharata, the British Raj, etc and in the 1970's he was inspired to do a series on Indian music and musicians. And so, this tryptych emerged in 1977.
Hussain had joined the Progressive Artists Group in the 1940s to encourage the new Indian avant-garde movement. He once painted cinema hoardings and designed furniture and toys. He’s dabbled in films too. Indeed, in 1967 he made his first short film, Through the Eyes of a Painter, which won the highest award at the Berlin Film Festival that year. And later, in the 1990's he made a few very successful commercial Hindi films as well.
A 94 year-old painter, M F Hussain is a living legend in India today but he lives an isolated life, mired in controversy. Hussain is currently shuttling between London and Dubai, because his recent work, nude portraits of Hindu gods and goddesses, drew such an outcry that he was charged with hurting public sentiment.
With a career spanning several decades, he is the most prolific Indian artist today. Indeed, Hussain continues to paint. The petulant voices of certain groups in India may have reached a higher pitch than ever before, but being one of the most highly rated artists today, he still continues to sell his work at astonishing prices.