M. F. Husain (India)

1915 - 2011

Provenance 

Sotheby's Auction House date 15th Nov 2019

Acquired by a Private Swedish Collectore, March 1970 Sotheby's New York, 18th March 2009

Title

Blue Boy on Tree Top

Medium

Oil on Canvas

Year

1969

Size

87.7 x 87.7 Inches

The Voyage

As a child, MF Husain became fascinated with the geometric forms of Kufic Calligraphy which would form the foundation of his modified cubist style throughout his career.

Husain’s painting titled Blue Boy On Tree Top circa. 1969 may have had its title inspired from Picasso’s painting titled Blue Boy circa. 1905. However, the similarities between the two paintings are limited to sharing the same title as Picasso’s Blue Boy is a portraiture composition, while Husain’s Blue Boy on Tree Top is an epic moment from Indian folklore and mythology frozen on the canvas depicting Lord Krishna hiding in a tree after stealing clothes from the gopis of Brindavan.

It has been lauded by critics and art historians alike that Husain had the genius and imagination to rework Indian religious and mythological stories into a contemporary setting resulting in a frenetic vibrancy of polysemous thematic compositions which change the original story to tell a new one.

Ideology

Thus, though one may see the painting as a natural successor to Indian art heritage it is quintessentially a “ Husain” embellished with its recognisable thought and style. The painting is oil on canvas in Husain’s inimitable strong brush strokes depicting gesture and movement; the use of textural impasto to give dept layering urgency; vibrant use of blocks of colour and the outline of the figures in stark black. One can see the cubist influence taking effect and pre-dating his later works which would have a sharper focus on contrasts in both line and colour as Husain evolved as an artist.

The importance of this particular painting is underscored by the fact that artworks by Husain especially from the early years are sought after and hard to come by making the sale and acquisition of Blue Boy On Tree Top of historical significance not only for the Indian art market but also for signposting his undisputed place among the international great modern artists of the last century.