Maqbool Fida Husain, ‘Untitled (Nude in Blue)’, Christie's South Asian + Chinese

The portrayal of the feminine has been an integral part of Husain's compositions. Their forms are often influenced by classical Indian sculpture, yet characterized by Husain's strong, angular lines. "Husain's women are always enshrouded in an invisible veil, the simplicity of their form countered by their inaccessibility." (Y. Dalmia, 'A Metaphor for Modernity' in The Making of Modern Indian Art, New Delhi, 2001, p. 111)

Whilst in this painting, the lines are both bold and pronounced, they are lent an ethereal quality by the somber palette of blues that the artist uses to elicit the mood of the image. "Colour is a very significant element in Indian painting colour is not light but a symbol of certain emotions, a certain mood [...]" (Artist statement, 'Indian Identity and Contemporary Indian Art', Contemporary Indian Art, New York, 1985, p. 27) Within this particular image, the central female figure appears contemplative and withdrawn, her gaze averted, the serene stasis accented by the melancholy blue tones as she hovers in the window frame. As if mirroring the window, Husain constructs a poetic, beguiling image that draws the viewer in with its subtly layered nuances.

Signature: signed in Hindi and Urdu (upper right)

Continuum: Progressive Artists Group, Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi, 2001 (illustrated)

The Naked and the Nude: The Body in Indian Modern Art, 2013 (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