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5 controversial art, born in India

Controversies in India are very much common and anything can get and is getting banned under various terms. A movie, music or a banner everything is attracting controversies, so how can art be aloof! As an integral part of popular culture, art by its very nature can be shocking. Sometimes, shock factor is even a tool used by artists to bring to light a topic of theme they are looking to explore. Art being a convenient way to express an artist’s vision, it sometimes doesn’t go good with the audience and as a result create controversies.

Here we are noting down 5 Indian artworks (some of renowned artists), that created controversies in India.

Bharat Mata by M. F. Hussain


Hussain in his time period was embroiled in many controversies due to his artworks and sometimes due to his personal lifestyle. Despite his international appreciation many of his artworks came under the radar of controversies. His depiction of Hindu deities was condemned the most whereas Hussain’s painting of Bharat Mata (Mother India) was the most controversial artwork of his life time, though the artist maintained that the title did not come from him. The portrayal of a nude Bharat Mata hurt the sentiments of a majority of Indians. The painting got opposition from groups like Vishva Hindu Parishad and Hindu Jagruti Samiti. He was exiled and forced to live in London due to these controversy from his work. Regardless of his reputation, he inspired a generation of Indian artists and elevated Indian art to an international level.

An actor rehearsing the interior monologue of Icarus by Surendran Nair


The artwork titled ‘An actor rehearsing the interior monologue of Icarus’ depicted a naked Icarus, the Greek mythological figure, on top of the Ashokan pillar. The painting was enrolled amid controversies and was removed from the exhibition two days before its opening. It was a part of an exhibition by 25 young Indian artists ‘Combined Voice for the New Century’, at NGMA, New Delhi. The director Mukta Nidhi Samnotra ordered to remove the painting saying “disrespectful to the national emblem”. When objected by the exhibition curator Prina Kurion and organiser Amit Gupta, the NGMA director threatened to personally remove the artwork. Outraged over this incident all the artists involved in the exhibition withdrew their works in protest.

Artwork by Akram Hussain


Assam based artist Akram Hussain had painted Hindu deity Lord Krishna along with seven bikini clad gopis in a bar. The painting was a part of a group exhibition in the Guwahati State Art Gallery in Ravindra Bhavan in 2015. Not only this, Akram had put on display another artwork that was seen as dishonouring the National Flag. The painting had an unfurled Tricolour with many objectionable items including liquor bottle heaped over one another. The art of taking advantage of artistic freedom was highly condemned by the All India Patriotic Forum, Assam branch. An FIR was filled against Akram for hurting the sentiments of Hindus and the painting was also seized from the state gallery.

Hanuman mural in IIT Bombay


One more artwork that came into controversy in 2016 was a mural of modern day Hanuman in IIT Bombay. The members of Shiv Sena found it disrespectful for the Hindu deity. The mural was painted on a wall in the Mood Indigo fest of IIT Bombay. The painting had Hanuman holding a pen, wearing shorts, knee pads, headphones, watches, a tie and spectacles. The avatar was wearing a slipper and a shoe with the tail replaced with the saffron flag. After the protests by the Shiv Sena workers, the painting was white washed along with an apology letter from the organising body.

Newspaper ad by Jawed Habib


Showing Goddess Durga, Kartik, Ganesh, Saraswati and Lakshmi all visiting the Jawed Habib salon resulted in an immediate reaction from people for apparently hurting religious sentiments. It was a newspaper ad in 2017 with the tag, “Gods too visit JH salon”. Later on the renowned hair stylist apologised for his ad campaign on Twitter: “If our ad campaign had inadvertently hurt anyone’s sentiments, we apologise for that”.

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