‘Picasso of India’, MF Husain, celebrated in exhibit of self-portraits

Dubai exhibition marks what would have been artist MF Husain's 100th birthday.

Sotheby's business director for the Mena region, India and Turkey, Tim Murphy, at the exhibition of MF Husain's self-portraits at the Sovereign art gallery in JLT, Dubai. Christopher Pike / The National
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DUBAI // An exhibition celebrating the work of the “Picasso of India” has opened to mark the centenary of his birth.

The show, Maqbool, features self-portraits by MF Husain, who died in 2011 but would have been 100 years old this year.

It is at the Sovereign gallery, in Jumeirah Lakes Towers, until December 12.

Husain lived in Dubai for several years and gained a huge international following from exhibits worldwide.

“He did more to popularise Indian art than anyone else,” said Dadiba Pundole, the exhibition curator and gallery owner.

“There are a lot of people who have expressed in other Indian art after becoming familiar with Husain’s work.”

Husain was a prodigious artist who produced more than 60,000 pieces throughout his career.

He was primarily a portrait artist and he created a relatively high number of self-portraits, Mr Pundole said.

The 25 portraits on display show him at various stages of his life. Using photographs, Husain was able to paint a portrait of himself at the age of 6, as a young man and at other stages of his life.

One painting shows himself riding a bike, while another features him in a classroom with a schoolmate.

The paintings are from personal collections from around the world. Mr Pundole spent about two years trying to source the works.

“Many of them took a bit of persuading to lend their works to this exhibition,” he said.

There were several self-portraits that he wanted but could not get. These include one of the artist in a James Bond-style pose holding a pair of paintbrushes instead of a gun.

Mr Pundole was a long-term friend of Husain and said the artist was keen on the idea of an exhibition of his self-portraits.

“I discussed this with him a few years ago and I know he would have been thrilled to see it,” he said.