Untitled, oil on canvas, signed and dated in Devanagari and further dated '70 in English lower left, framed, 134.8 x 137.9cm (53 1/16 x 54 5/16in).
Provenance: Private collection, Greece; acquired from a gallery in Delhi in the early 1970s.
The depiction of two of Husain's most iconic subject matters; the horse and woman are combined in Untitled to create a work laden with veiled symbology and intensity.
The horse has been one of the key elements in the artist's oeuvre throughout the last sixty years and is here portrayed with a gaping mouth and wide staring eyes. The crazed animal has been executed in light tones which help to show the intensity and power of the animal.
'Like his bulls, spiders and lamps on women's thighs, boastful snakes and blackly passionate suns, Husain's horses are subterranean creatures. Their nature is not intellectualised; it is rendered as sensation or as abstract movement, with a capacity to stir up vague premonitions and passions, in a mixture of ritualistic fear and exultant anguish.' Richard Bartholomew and Shiv S. Kapur, Husain, New York, 1971, p.42.
The period of 1965-1975 was one of the most bellicose decades in the history of modern India. It is therefore not surprising that the conflicts in which India was involved influenced Husain during this period. In several works executed in the late 1960s/early 1970s Husain's horses reflect the mood of aggression and violence felt throughout the country. The depiction of this horse is entirely in line with those other works and is infused with the same feeling of aggression and anger.
By the early 1970s Husain's nudes had evolved from a formal study of the female figure to an embodiment of the emotions that woman creates in man. During this period Husain's focus is on the 'heat and fire' created by the female form rather than on the structure of the female body. Husain once said 'When I make nude paintings of women you will find that there is no nakedness in this nudity'. It is later on in the 1970s that the artist focuses on the female figure as an erotic subject matter.
The two figures are portrayed against a burnt red moon and mottled brown background, a colour scheme which is very elemental in its nature, heightening the intense atmosphere of the work.
References: Richard Bartholomew and Shiv S. Kapur, Husain, New York, 1971, p.42 K. Bikram Singh, Maqbool Fida Husain, New Delhi, 2008, pp.97-114