Sajeda Momin, DNA, May 26, 2006

LONDON: Organisers have wound up MF Husain’s exhibition in London after saffron vandals destroyed two of his paintings on show.
Last Saturday, the vandals threw paint on two paintings, Durga and Draupadi, at the Asia House art gallery in central London. The gallery soon closed its doors.

“After the attack, the insurance company told Asia House to call off the exhibition,” said a dismayed Husain, who is in London, to DNA.

Asia House was extremely cagey about the issue. “We have had threats and so closed the exhibition,” said a representative.

A criminal case has been lodged and £200,000 in damages claimed, but no arrests have been made so far.

An organisation called Hindu Human Rights (HHR), who led protests against Husain’s depiction of a naked Durga and Draupadi for over two weeks, said they do not know the vandals. “No one has claimed responsibility,” said HHR spokesman Arjun Mallick.

When Hussain saw the damage, he commented dryly on the daub of paint: “This is aesthetic vandalism.”

The paintings on display were from the 1950s and ‘60s. “It was a private, educational show. The paintings were not on sale,” Husain said.

“We received over 1,000 emails from concerned Hindus while the exhibition was on,” Mallick said. “Asia House didn’t respond to our calls. So we decided to hold a protest outside the gallery this Saturday to force them to close the exhibition. But on Monday, I got a call from Asia House saying they have withdrawn the exhibition. Obviously, we will not go ahead with the protest.”