(This report is unofficial, so please take it with a daub of paint).
After getting Qatar citizenship ‘India’s pride’ M.F.Hussain was emboldened to travel west to hold an exhibition of his paintings of nude Hindu gods in Riyadh, the Saudi Arabian capital.
The exhibition went on for three days because many of the Arab artlovers who saw the paintings could not make head or tail of the great Indian Pic-ass-o (hyphenation not intended).
When the implications to the anatomy of some of the paintings (Durga on a lion, for one) began to sink in, the Arabs were scandalised. What sort of bestiality is this, they cried out. The imagination of the Arabs, who love their camels, was ignited by Hussain’s libidinous leaps of genius.
Under a legal system which began with the inception of Islam in the region 1300 years ago, the Saudi authorities earmarked ninety lashes for Hussain.
Curiously the bearded painter is a nonagenarian and the number of lashes corresponds almost to every year of his life.
But after India, whose passport he has surrendered upon getting Qatar citizenship, made importunate pleas on his behalf, the Saudi authorities have decided to keep the sentence in abeyance.
‘Fully clothed series on camels’
The exhibition in Riyadh has been quietly suspended, and the paintings smuggled back to Qatar.
Meanwhile, Hussain is said to be contemplating a series on camels. A special feature of this series is that all the camels will be fully clothed.