M.F. Hussain, a former movie billboard artist who rose to become India’s most sought-after painter before going into self-imposed exile during an uproar over nude images of Hindu icons, died Thursday. He was 95.
CNN-IBN TV channel quoted a friend, Arun Vadehra, as saying that Mr. Hussain, often described as India’s Picasso, died at the Royal Brompton hospital in London. His lawyer, Akhil Sibal, confirmed the death to The Associated Press. Mr. Hussain had lived in Dubai since 2006 after receiving death threats from Hindu hard-liners in India for a nude painting of a woman shaped like India’s map, often depicted as “Mother India” in popular arts, folklore and literature. A nude of Hindu goddess Saraswati also angered the hard-liners.
No details of the cause of his death were immediately known. The artist, whose full name was Maqbool Fida Hussain but who was known simply as M.F. Hussain, started out as a poster artist for India’s prolific Bollywood film industry. Decades later, his paintings and even his simple pencil drawings became status symbols for India’s wealthy elite, with his works commanding price tags running into millions of dollars.