Christie’s to go ahead with Husain painting auction in US

March 18th, 2008 - 10:40 am ICT by admin  

New York, March 18 (IANS) Christie’s has decided not to withdraw the works by M.F. Husain from the sale of South Asian Modern Contemporary Art here March 20 despite demands from Hindu groups to bar the celebrated Indian painter because he has allegedly hurt Hindu sentiments by portraying their gods in forms that are seen as disrespectful. Stating that Christie’s is respectful of all religions and ethnicities, its spokesperson told IANS Monday, “We also respect artistic freedom. Art and culture embraces multiple interpretations and re-interpretations of religious and ethnic symbols that are often highly individual expressions.”

Earlier, in a letter to Christie’s, the Indian American Intellectual Forum, which has joined hands with Hindu Janjagruti Samiti on the campaign against Husain, said Husain has gained notoriety in India by painting several Hindu gods and goddesses in derogatory forms.

As part of Christie’s spring auction, Husain’s paintings are expected to fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars. One of them, “The Battle of Ganga and Yamuna” is estimated to rake in $600,000-$800,000.

The forum president, Narain Kataria, has also sent a power point presentation to Christie’s, highlighting “Husain’s deliberate distortion and degradation of Hindu culture”.

“Seven cases have been registered against him and six courts have issued arrest warrants against him. More than 28,000 people have signed a petition condemning Husain for his malicious attempts to vilify Hindus,” Kataria claimed.

He added that Husain stood “condemned by the Indian parliament for painting Mother India in the nude”. It was thus unbecoming, Kataria said, on the part of Christie’s to associate with Husain.

The nonagenarian Husain currently lives in Dubai and London, choosing to stay away from India to evade arrests in connection with the cases filed against him.

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