Untitled (Couple on a Horse)

My horses like lightning, cut across many horizons. Seldom their hooves are shown. They hop around the spaces. From the battlefield of Karbala" to Baukura terracotta, from the Chinese Tse pei Hung horse to St. Marco horse, from ornate armoured "Duldul" to challenging white of "Ashwamedh" ... the cavalcade of my horses is multidimensional."_ (Husain, Tata Steel Publications, 1987, p. 83)

From East to West, throughout history, the horse has been a universal fascination and inspiration for artists. From Chinese terracotta of antiquity to Ancient Rome to Leonardo to Gericault to Picasso, the horse has been a perennial muse which has transcended time, circumstance and culture. The relationship between the artist and this revered beast is also profoundly personal, becoming a vehicle of outward expression of both an inner meditation and a universal subject.

MF Husain frequently encountered the equine effigy throughout his life across cultures. He acknowledges the influence of Tang pottery horses he studied on a trip to China and the equestrian sculptures discovered after a trip to Italy. However the horse also resonates with MF Husain's admiration for Ancient Greece, a civilization which championed and deified the equestrian form. The Trojan Horse, Pegasus and Alexander's prized Bucephalus are only a few iconic stallions which permeate the mythological and historical past of hallowed antiquity. This two headed horse in war regalia, tosses and turns as it reluctantly carries two miniature crowned figures on its lower back. These tiny kings dwarfed by this hybrid horse, appear servants more than masters to this battle-ready beast.

Y. Dalmia, MF Husain: A Tribute, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, 2012, p. 67 (illustrated)

About Maqbool Fida Husain

A controversial artist known for narrative paintings done in a flat, Cubist style, Maqbool Fida Husain is regarded by some as the Picasso of India. A member of the Bombay Progressive Arts Group, Husain sought to create a modern Indian art form for the newly freed nation of India. Threatened and criticized by Hindu nationalist groups for his treatment of such sensitive subject matter as nude Hindu goddesses, the artist entered into a self-imposed exile. Self-taught, he painted Indian themes in the style of contemporary European artists, most notably Paul Klee. Husain’s depictions of historic figures, rural and urban Indian life, and religious iconography grew increasingly experimental over his lifetime, culminating with an unfinished series of triptychs, “Indian Civilization,” which pays tribute to Indian history and reveals Husain’s own personal mythology.

Indian, 1915-2011, Pandharpur, India, based in London, United Kingdom

Exhibition Highlights On Artsy

Masterpieces of Indian Modern Art, Dag Modern, New York
Mysteries of the Organism, AkaraArt, Mumbai
M.F. Husain: Master of Modern Indian Painting, Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A)