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Artist apologizes for depicting India as nude

Hussain withdraws painting that shows nation as ‘mother goddess’
/ Source: The Associated Press

India’s most famous artist has apologized for representing the country as a nude goddess in a painting.

Maqbool Fida Hussain, India’s best known contemporary artist, promised to withdraw his painting portraying a nude “Mother India” from a charity auction to be held later Wednesday in New Delhi, Press Trust of India news agency said Wednesday

Hussain’s apology follows protests by several Hindu groups objecting to the painting and to earlier works by the artist portraying naked Hindu goddesses.

Spurning his apology, dozens of Hindu hard-liners on Wednesday burned a paper effigy of Hussain after marching through the streets of Kanpur, an industrial town nearly 30 miles southwest of Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh state, Press Trust reported.

India is often depicted as a “mother goddess” and is widely revered in the popular arts, folklore and literature.

Hussain had offered the painting to a charity group auctioning works by leading artists to collect funds for survivors of last year’s massive Kashmir earthquake.

Sharan Apparao, curator of the auction house, said she had received many phone calls from protesters demanding the painting be withdrawn from the auction. At least two hardline Hindu groups, the Hindu Public Awakening Committee and the World Hindu Council, registered police complaints against Hussain in the western Indian city of Bombay, accusing the 90-year-old painter of hurting their religious sentiments.

There were huge protests in Bombay and other parts of India in 1996 after Hussain painted a number of Hindu goddesses in the nude. His home in Bombay was ransacked by angry Hindu protesters.

Hussain apologized then also.