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10 Jun 2011

One of India's most famous artists, MF Husain, has died in hospital in London aged 95 after years of self-imposed exile.

He had been unwell for several months.

Maqbool Fida Husain was India's most highly prized - and perhaps most controversial - painter and his work sold for millions of dollars.

His paintings of nude Hindu goddesses angered hardline Hindus who accused him of obscenity. He left India in 2006 and took up Qatari nationality in 2010.

Mr Husain has also made two Bollywood films, although both failed at the box office.

The maverick artist was often called the "Picasso of India" and influenced a whole generation of artists in the country.
'Never aged'

With flowing white hair and long beard, he was known to walk barefoot at social gatherings.

Leading Indian artist Anjolie Ela Menon said that Mr Husain's "enormous body of work is matched by Pablo Picasso's body of work".

"Husain never aged. He retained his energy, humour and his amazing capacity to work. He was restless, often saying he never had a bedroom in which he slept. He was a nomad, a gypsy," Ms Menon said.

Art critic S Kalidas said Mr Husain was painting until two weeks before his death, and led a "full life".

"He could paint anywhere - on the streets, in the studio. He was colourful, agile in mind and body. He was a fast thinking and fast painting man. I have never seen anybody paint so fast," he said.

Mr Husain's career was marked by controversy when he was accused of obscenity and denounced by hardline Hindus for a painting of a nude goddess.

His exhibitions were often attacked by hardline Hindu groups.

In 2006, Mr Husain publicly apologised for his painting, Mother India. It shows a nude woman kneeling on the ground creating the shape of the Indian map.

He also promised to withdraw the controversial painting from a charity auction.

In 2008, India's Supreme Court refused to launch criminal proceedings against Mr Husain saying that his paintings were not obscene and nudity was common in Indian iconography and history.


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