SAHMAT protests India Art Summit’s Husain blackout

August 19th, 2008 - 6:55 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 19 (IANS) Expressing its displeasure over the India Art Summit’s decision against showcasing M.F. Husain’s work during the three-day event, the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT), in a gesture of solidarity with the artist, has decided to organize an exhibition showcasing only his work. The exhibition will coincide with the summit.In a statement, SAHMAT said the Summit’s organizers may have taken the decision out of fear of attacks or protests, but by giving in to such threats by extremist political groups, they were only playing into the hands of such forces.

“It is the duty of the state and the police to protect our institutions and citizens against threats of violence. Surely the authorities and the Delhi Police are capable of confronting any such threat,” Ashok Kumari of SAHMAT said.

“An exhibition of Husain’s works was held at the India International Centre last December after assurances from the Delhi Police,” he added.

The India Art Summit Aug 22-24, promises to be a one of its kind affair where more than 200 stakeholders, including 34 galleries, will come together at the Pragati Maidan fairground to showcase 400 works of art and interact with a new segment of investors.

However, the summit organizers’ decision against showcasing Husain’s work has disappointed many from the art fraternity.

The organizers refused to comment on the issue saying there were other concerns that they were focusing on at the moment, with security being one of them.

Others, like Ridhi Bhalla of the Nitranjali Art Gallery here, said she doesn’t agree with the organizers’ decision.

“It’s an art summit where freedom of expression and creativity are the main flavours. In that light, for the summit’s organizers to not showcase Husain’s work, despite his being cleared of all legal hassles by the courts, is not right,” Bhalla told IANS.

According to Kumari, Husain “has been single-handedly responsible for putting Indian art on the world map and equally responsible for creating the world boom in Indian art, without which such a summit would not be taking place in Delhi”.

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