M.F. Husain. The larger-than-life artist whose mere signature is enough to fetch high prices has been humanised in this handsomely-illustrated book. Rashda Siddiqui—his companion for 26 years—has chronicled not just his art but also those moments when the artist has wiped out his paintings and made them again or illustrated on table mats and menu cards or sent hastily-scrawled notes. She tells us how his well-known painting The Spider and the Lamp
when displayed in ’56 was dismissed by critics as poster art partly because it was eight feet high. Or that his first painting which drew attention was The Potters
in ’47 which won an award at the Bombay Art Society and prompted Francis Newton Souza to invite him to join the Progressive Artists Group. Husain himself prizes the work for other reasons. It was while he was painting it that his father—on a visit to Bombay—fell ill and watched him paint from his bed; he died soon after.
The most endearing part of the book is on the series called Autobiography, painted by Husain at Siddiqui’s request in...