Groups threaten demonstration if Husain's paintings auctioned

16 Mar, 2008, 1515 hrs IST, PTI

NEW YORK: A group working to advance the cultural heritage of Indians in the US along with a Hindu organisation has threatened to hold a demonstration unless the Christie's Art Gallery here stops the scheduled auction of several paintings of noted artiste M F Husain on March 20.

In a letter to Christie's, the Indian American Intellectual Forum which has joined hands with Hindu Janjagruti Samiti against Husain said the painter has gained "ignominy and notoriety" in India by painting several Hindu gods and goddesses in "derogatory" forms.

Therefore, it is a matter of "great regret and shame" that auction by Christie's Art Gallery, as part of the Indian and South Asian sale on March 20, is featuring several of his paintings. The letter by Forum President Narain Kataria was released by the organisation yesterday.

Christie's expects some of Hussian's paintings to fetch between $ 120,000 and $ 180,000 and several between $ 20,000 and $40,000

Kataria also sent a power point presentation to Christie's which, he says, "lists Husain's deliberate distortion and degradation of Hindu culture."

"Seven cases have been registered against him. 6 courts have issued arrest warrants against him. More than 28,000 people have signed a petition condemning Mr Husain for his malicious attempts to vilify Hindu people. 1250 police complaints have been filed against him," Kataria claimed.

In this background, he said it is "unbecoming on the part of Christie's, a reputable Art Gallery, "to associate with a person of criminal background and promote his paintings."

Asserting that Christie's association with Husain would "jeopardise" its business in the long run, he urged it to "refrain" from auctioning Husain's paintings.
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