10 June 2011
Last updated at 01:50
The maverick artist often called the Picasso of India - MF Husain - has died in hospital in London aged 95 after years of self-imposed exile. He was one of India's most highly prized - and perhaps most controversial - painters and his work sold for millions of dollars.
MF Husain began his career painting film posters but in recent years his work had been at the forefront of international interest in Indian art. His ambition was to be a film-maker - but he had to content himself with painting film posters and hoardings.
The Maharashtra-born artist sold this picture, The Battle of Ganga and Jamuna for $1.6m (£980,000) when aged 92 in 2008. He was not the only painter to put modern Indian art on the map, but he was a big part of the process.
His work often showed the human figure but with an edge of the abstract; it became almost a cliche to call MF Husain India's Picasso. He was a Muslim but often dealt with themes from Hindu mythology. He said the religious divide was not what mattered.
The story of MF Husain has been described as one of the saddest of post-Independence India. It is a story of how the country's most famous painter was hounded into self-imposed exile while the state looked on.
Towards the end of his life, the painter lived in the Middle East and London. When news emerged in 2010 that he was contemplating taking up Qatari nationality, there was predictable outrage from the arts world in India.
When his admirers in India got worked up about his self-imposed exile, he calmly told an interviewer: "Nothing is stopping me; I can return tomorrow. But please know I remain an Indian painter whether I am painting in Paris, London, New York or Qatar."
A self-taught artist, his impulses were awakened by the street art and the colours and sights he would observe as he rode his bicycle as a boy. He embraced the street around him, living in bazaar lanes where prostitutes and street vendors peddled their wares.
Husain rose to prominence as a painter in the 1940s. Following India's independence he joined the Progressive Artist's Group, a bold new breed of artists like Francis Newton Souza, SH Raza and Akbar Padamsee. His arrival on the art scene soon after Independence in 1947 was hailed as both anarchic and liberating.
His critics accused him of selling out to the market, but MF Husain remained unfazed. He would paint a mural as a gift after a good meal at a small roadside cafeteria in Calcutta and also draw huge crowds all over the world to see his paintings - which often sold for exorbitant amounts.
Until the end he was considered an eccentric, instantly recognisable with his uncombed mane of hair. He often chose to go barefoot, like most poor Indians, twirling an oversized paint brush at upmarket parties. Neither the man nor his pictures will be forgotten.