Saturday, November 18, 2006

Top Indian artist bemoans "exile" over nude painting

Top Indian artist bemoans "exile" over nude painting
Nov 17 7:38 AM US/Eastern

India's most celebrated artist M.F. Husain says he is very homesick in London where he lives in voluntary exile to escape prosecution over his paintings of nude Hindu gods and goddesses.

"I am extremely homesick," the 91-year-old told The Hindustan Times, adding that he is yearning for Mumbai.

"I long to walk through the streets of Grand Road and Byculla where I have spent some of the best years of my life," he said.

"As far as I know there are at least 900 cases registered against me (in India). Matters are so legally complicated that I have been advised not return home.

"I have become an international gypsy. It is no secret that I am wandering around the world with only my art for company." His paintings fetch tens of thousands of dollars.

Last May, the Indian government alerted the police fearing Hindu-Muslim riots over a nude painting by Husain, a Muslim.

The work depicts a nude "Mother India" and raised the hackles of Hindu groups, one of which this year offered an 11.5 million dollars for Husain's murder.

One of the cases pending against Husain is for hurting the sentiments of Hindus.

The law ministry has examined half-a-dozen works by Husain and told the government that prosecutors would have a strong case against him if they sued him for deliberately hurting religious feelings.

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