The article in Times of India dated 14th August, 2009 (Hyderabad Edition) titled " Kerala government in a fix after picking Husain for Raja Ravi Verma award - government left red faced as Husain is a vocal critic of Ravi Verma" made me very sad.
According to reports Husain was not one of Ravi Verma's best admirers and had been even opposed a 1993 exhibition of his works in Delhi as ominous signs for secularism (Sic- what has secularism got to do with it?).
The show organised by the then congress government at Delhi's National Museum had drawn criticism from Husain and other veteran artists. They had criticised the Union Government for its alleged promotion of Ravi Verma as the pioneer of modern movement in Indian Art (The Illustrated Weekly, 17- 23 July 1993). The statement said, " For those who do not subscribe to the evolutionist approach in Indian art, the notion of Ravi Verma being a precursor of the Modern Movement in Indian art is absurd. The projection of Ravi Verma today has a political basis" it said quoting Husain. (What has politics got to do with it?).
According to another signatory, " For 40 years, the art community rejected Ravi Verma (???? why, on what basis, where is the proof, is Ravi Verma's art so untouchable?), so I'm surprised he is being resurrected. If the BJP takes over, Ravi Verma"s will become the official art which will get state patronage". ( What an absurd assumption? Did Hussain opposed Ravi Verma just because BJP supported his work?) Husain, the report added, said: " Ravi Verma's Saraswatis and Durgas were like Italian women draped in Saris. His work was not creative but imitative. His is the worst form of calender art". ( I am really surprised one master criticising this way another master's work because- I feel- there is no truth in it.)
Whether Husain and others accept it or not Raja Ravi Verma was one of the pioneers of Modern Indian Art & whether BJP accepts it or not Husain is one of the giants in Indian art. It is not fair on the part of Hussain to criticise Ravi Verma's work- as Ravi Verma cannot defend himself now- just because he is supported by a political party and complain when his works are criticised. Please stop politicizing art. Treat art as art and give it due importance where ever necessary.