“Husain views each painting as a fragment of music whose counterpoint exists elsewhere, and his entire painterly activity as one immense effort at orchestration of all the notes that he hears struck upon his personality. No painting is intended as a complete statement. In a continuing inquiry into the nature of being, every one of his wide array of works, joyous or grave, leaves the viewer with an intimation of other possibilities.” (R. Bartholomew and S.S. Kapur, Husain, New York, 1972, p. 60)
Inspired by Indian classical music and dance, Maqbool Fida Husain has recurrently paid homage to cultural traditions through his paintings. Exploring the relationship between the aesthetics of modern painting and those of folk and classical Indian music and dance traditions, Husain frequently appropriated the visual interpretations of Indian musical modes in his work.
In this complex composition, a critical painting recalling both Husain’s monumental early works like Man, Zameen and his Ragamala canvases, the artist uses the surface, seemingly split into distinct but interrelated spaces to convey his innate Indian vernacular. In the leftmost panel a female sitar player strums the strings of her instrument. One of her feet, with a parrot perched on it extends into the central panel where a seated drummer keeps rhythm for the group of dancers above him. On the right, a man in front of a pair of bulls plays the tambourine.
Despite their separation, Husain creates a sense of harmony and between the musicians and dancers, infusing this painting with a powerful rhythm and energy. The artist presents these separated fragments as an integrated whole, just as instruments come together in concert.