Indian painter Shamshad Husain Dies
By Simon Frank
On October 24, Indian painter Shamshad Husain passed away from liver cancer in Delhi. He was 69 years old. In recent decades the artist had emerged as an important figure in Indian art, with his career and influence framed by the immense stature of his father, MF Husain (1915–2011), one of India’s most famous and controversial modern artists. Working in oil and acrylic paint, Husain was known for somber-toned paintings that referenced both Indian culture and Western artistic tradition.
Born in Mumbai in 1946, Husain began his art education at the highly respected Faculty of Fine Arts of Maharaja Sayajirao University in Baroda, Gujarat, where he graduated in 1968. In the late 1970s he spent a year pursuing graduate studies at the Royal College of Art in London. Though his art occasionally bore the influence of Cubism, which was lso present in his father’s work, Husain gradually articulated a distinct personal style, using muted colors to depict men and women wearing Indian clothing, often looking distraught or lost within dark, richly textured backgrounds. Yet Husain’s art was neither morose nor exclusively beholden to the Indian context; his early 2000s series “Love in the Time of Cholera” referenced Columbian writer Gabriel García Márquez’s magical-realist novel while displaying a brighter, airy palette.
Husain held his first solo exhibition in 1968 and went on to show widely around the world, where his work was displayed in Copenhagen, London and Moscow, as well as at the 1984 Tokyo Biennale. In 1983 the Lalit Kala Akademi in India granted him its national award. Since the 1990s there has been growing auction interest in Husain’s work, with his paintings featuring in sales by Triveda Fine Arts in Delhi along with Christie’s and Sotheby’s in New York.