Saturday, March 6, 2010


The terror attack in Mumbai by Pakistani terrorists on November 26, 2008, angered MF Husain who felt as if India had been raped. "A writer or journalist can express his/her feelings by writing, but I can express them only through my paintings. I have already started work on the theme 'Rape of India' to condemn the terror attack, as the incident was as unpleasant and brutal as rape."

The painting that you see here is the result. Now I am no connoisseur of art; in fact I can appreciate it no better than the average man on the street. That does not necessarily mean that what I see is not what the artist wanted to convey, even though it may be at variance with the interpretations of those who claim to be more knowledgeable.

This is what I see in this Husain painting.
  • A young raging bull, tail up in victory, has forced himself into, and is biting, a frightened (holy) cow. Husain is known for his horses but here he has shown a bull and a cow (you can't miss their horns).
  • India is shown as a helpless Hindu (vermilion on the head) nautch girl (ghungroo on one leg). Some may see her as an extension of the cow that is being raped.
  • The Indian (Hindu? - Brahmin tuft on the head of child) man is shown as a child who is not only not capable of defending and protecting himself but as one who needs to be carried and protected by his Mother India, even as she is being raped.
  • The painting is on two canvases, with the word 'India' being split across them.
Is Husain's pain against the terror attack that he has likened to India's rape visible in the painting?

What do you see in this creation?
Related reading: Freedom of expression: No difference between Husain and Westergaard