“M.F. Husain: Art and the Nation”, an exhibition focusing on legendary painter M.F. Husain’s mural-sized painting ‘Lightning’, created for then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s rally in 1975, will open here on March 20.
Husain, the founding member of the Bombay Progressive Artists Group, created Lightning’s 12 massive panels, each 10 feet high and five feet wide.
“Lightning is filled with visual references to India in the 1970s and allusions to Indira Gandhi, though she is absent visually.
“Against a background of green, red, blue and purple, white horses outlined in black charge in an energetic and frenetic line toward the left, as if indicating the unstoppable progress of the new nation,” Asia Society said in a press release.
It added: “A grain stalk references India’s Green Revolution from 1967 to 1978 that was initiated by her to make the nation self-sufficient in grain production. A depiction of a mother with her two young children marked with a red triangle denotes India’s family planning policies, which included mass, forced sterilization during the Emergency.”
Other visual references in Lightning evoke the country’s industrial and military ambitions, it said.
The bold, graphic style of the work suggests that Husain drew upon his experience as a former professional movie billboard painter, which is a less known part of his life.
Lightning is part of a series of paintings about Indira Gandhi, which Husain continued even after her assassination in 1984, the Asia Society said.
“M.F. Husain: Art and the Nation” showcases the development of Husain’s post-1960s work, and is on view at the Asia Society Museum in New York from March 20 to August 4.