Anarchy comes from the Greek word an = without and arkhos = ruler.
The times we live in with a PM in absentia, and his spokesman Mr. Kapil Sibal’s moronic statement “The PM is a notional concept”. Sheesh, Mr. Sibal, I hope you realize that the votes you get from me is also notional. But then I digress.
What is art? As a creative person, I can safely state that to me my writing, my art is something that helps me express, without any limitation, my mind. Art knows no boundaries. Art is definitely anarchic in nature. To grab eyeballs, to capture the imagination, it has to push beyond safe boundaries, beyond comfort zone.
And creative people soar so high into their own imaginative worlds that it shocks them, surprises them when they see the strong reactions that the fruit of their creativity brings. I am sure Taslima Nasrin found that out to her own horror, so did Salman Rushdie. Stéphane Mallarmé, was once quoted “Je ne sais pas d’autre bombe, qu’un livre.” (I know of no bomb other than a book.) I would say the same about a painting.
I got an email forward today which was Hussain bashing. Honestly the paintings depicted did not shock me. They did not even titillate. I mean, they were just forms of the female body, no detailing. Very artistically done and not vulgar at all. They were not portraits, like the portraits of his wife and daughter. Of course his wife and daughter sat down to get portraits done, and hence were clothed. Mother India or the numerous goddesses did not. Hence the forms were there.
This is the statue of the mother goddess in Chottanikkara Bhagavathy Temple which is one of the most celebrated Hindu shrines of Kerala. The temple is located in Chottanikkara town, 17kms away from Ernakulam. Rajarajeswari (Adiparasakthi) alias Durga Bhagavathy – the mother Goddess, is the presiding deity of the temple.
To know more click the link. This picture is worshiped in most homes of Hindu devotees.
Given the current intolerant and sensitive milieu we live in, the fact that Hussain is of Islamic faith played a huge role in his being singled out for special treatment, I guess.
I bet the poor man came out of his creative trance and said “Whoa, I did not sign up for this!”
We have had Shekhar Kapoor at loggerheads with censor boards, we have had other creative people at odds with moral police. The most creative way to express disgust at such repression was in May 1967 when the protesting students tarted up the walls of Paris with slogans like L’ennui est contre-révolutionnaire (Boredom is counter-revolutionary).
So let us just put this in perspective.
Hussain painted nude goddesses and mother India. The paintings upset some people who were non creative and considered them offensive. So they protested and Hussain, rather than waste energy fighting them, left. He went ahead and painted more, in another country. No, his form of expression could not be repressed, for all the moralistic jingoism. Now he is dead.
So why the hullabaloo? Art is by its very nature anarchic. It brings forth a lot of change, it pushes the viewer out of his comfort zone, and of course, it communicates to the soul. It is said that the devil played the fiddle. Rock and Roll was considered anarchic and devil’s music. Hussain’s paintings also touched some atavistic chord that led to so much unrest.
All I can say is that the rabble rousers will die – but his paintings will endure.