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Islam (1992)
By Maqbool Fida Husain
Acrylic on canvas
Size: 198.1 x 353 centimetres (78 x 139 inches)
Estimated price: £300,000-400,000

One of the largest canvases by the modern master MF Husain to have appeared at auction, this monumental painting is the artist’s homage to Islam. MF Husain’s early experiences of painting cinema billboards allowed him to develop on a large scale a bold use of line and colour to create an image with minimal brushstrokes.

Executed in 1992, this painting belongs to a series of works titled Theorama that celebrated 10 different faiths, highlighting the cogent and meaningful aspects of each religion, but ultimately symbolising unity.

The subject of this impressive painting represents an important period in the artist’s career where he began to explore notions of theosophy and religion. The canvases MF Husain produced during this time were a culmination of his thematic and stylistic concerns of the past decades and his response to political situations of the time.

On the left is an image of a Sufi saint with his finger of Kalema-e-Shahadah raised. The black cube of the Kaabah with the Arabic alphabet Kaaf lies in the centre, literally and figuratively alluding to the prominence of the structure. Next to the Kaabah is a circle depicting the dome of The Prophet’s mosque in Madinah with the Arabic alphabet Meem. Flying across the sky on the right, is an image of Al-Buraq, the lightning horse, while an Islamic metaphor of scientific temper is depicted by the splitting of the moon Al-Shaqqul Qamar. On the right is the Judgement Day book of records known as Al-Loh-al-Mehfooz. Through the careful application of line and colour, and the religious motifs and metaphors used, this work is a masterful depiction of the Muslim faith.