Nazi "Degenerate Art" all over again?
chattrj at is3.nyu.edu
chattrj at is3.nyu.edu
Wed Oct 16 22:59:44 UTC 1996
This reminds me of the Nazi movement against the so-called "degenerate art"
that featured works of artists like Kandinsky and other expressionists.
What's going on in India? Can anything be done against this? It's Hussain
today, it was Safdar Hashmi yesterday, who's next? The signs are tell-tale.
NEW DELHI, Oct. 11 (UPI) -- Right-wing Hindu zealots broke into an Indian
art gallery and burned at least 25 paintings by celebrated artist Maqbool
Fida Husain, who has been under attack for his depiction of a Hindu goddess
as a nude woman, reports said Friday. Husain, a Muslim, is one of India's
best known painters. Experts value the destroyed works at an estimated $1.7
The rampage took place at an art gallery in Ahmedabad, in the western
state of Gujarat, where curators planned an exhibit of some of the artist's
rare paintings. Many of the works destroyed in the attack had been favorites
of Husain and had never left his house before, the Pioneer newspaper
reported. Officials said the attack was carried out by activists from the
Bajrang Dal, the youth wing of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.
"This should be a lesson to Husain to keep his hands off our faith,'' a
spokesman of the BJP was quoted as saying in the Pioneer. "Let him come here
and we will teach him a lesson.'' Husain has been criticized by right-wing
Hindus for his depiction of the deity Saraswati, the goddess of education
and learning, as a highly stylized naked woman.
The painter said he did not intend to offend anyone. He has also argued
that the Hindu pantheon is the legacy of all Indians, regardless of their
religious heritage. Bombay police, however, have filed criminal charges
against Husain for offending the religious sentiments of Hindus and
promoting hatred between Hindus and Muslims.
NEW DELHI, India (Reuter) - Dozens of artists Saturday protested the
burning by a Hindu fundamentalist group of paintings of nude Hindu
goddesses, calling the canvas torchings a shameful act of arson and
demanding the arrest of the culprits.
"I consider the present furor the ugliest form of communal hatred,''
Satish Gujral, a leading artist told artists gathered in New Delhi. They
were protesting the burning of some of Maqbool Fida Hussain's paintings in
the western city of Ahmedabad. Said one artist: "We demand the immediate
arrest of the arsonists in Ahmedabad.''
"What has happened in Ahemedabad in a dangerous signal to artists,
painters, writers, poets, dancers and musicians. I myself feel very
ashamed,'' said Bhabesh Sanyal, another artist. Hussain, a Muslim, earned
the ire of some Hindu fundamentalist groups and parties over his nude
paintings of Hindu goddesses. The artist painted the offending pictures two
to four years ago.
A Hindu fundamentalist group Thursday burnt some of Hussain's paintings in
Ahmedabad city, saying they were an offense to Hindu religious practices.
Members of the militant wing of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata
Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena activists, along with some other groups, staged a
small demonstration outside Hussain's home in Bombay Tuesday. The same day,
Bombay police, heeding calls from Hindu nationalists, filed obscenity
charges against Hussain. The storm over Hussain broke when Vichar magazine,
based in the Madhya Pradesh state capital of Bhopal, published an article on
the painter titled "Is this man a painter or a butcher?'' Hussain, a former
member of parliament, is currently visting London.
[The messages were forwarded to me by my friend Bhaskar Ghosh at
"ghosh at informix.com".]
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