This is the final artwork of Maqbool Fida Husain highlighting the progress of humanity on land, in air and sea, and their inclination to utilize the surrounding resources to achieve their goals.
Seeroo fi al ardh is one of the late Maqbool Fida Husain’s latest works. The artwork highlights the progress of humanity on land, in air and sea.
Art has the power to make them [people] look at, and think about, the world from different perspectives and through different lenses; to appreciate what the past can tell us about our present and our future, and to share in experiences that broaden our worldviews and nourish our minds.
Through this artwork, the artist is inviting us to walk the earth and utilize it to further our achievements like humankind did before.
Maqbool Fida Husain, popularly known as M.F. Husain, was born over a century ago on 29 November 1913. As a painter intimately connected to his cultural setting, Husain was able to draw on the rich tapestry of religion, history, and social realities he witnessed throughout his life. Growing up in a time of mass upheaval, both personal and political, Husain took an early interest in art, teaching himself painting, calligraphy, and various other forms of expression.
From his humble beginnings painting cinema posters and billboards for a growing Bollywood film industry, to directing internationally acclaimed films, Husain was much more than a ‘mere’ painter. His vast repertoire as an artist included: sculpture, mosaic, music, cinema, poetry, and much more. Among the many detours of his life, Husain even had a brief stint as a toymaker. Indeed, all his works were meant for public consumption, for the young and old, but especially children. At home in India and here in Arabia, he saw the world with the wonder of a child, the wisdom of a philosopher, and the joy of a discoverer.
While his artistic career was rooted in South Asia, Husain was always in conversation with the traditions of the West and the Arab world. An artist of Indian origin with Qatari citizenship, his art echoed globally, beyond borders. Towards the end of his life, he found a new home in Qatar which gave him refuge to explore his final artistic visions. “The world is my canvas”, he often said. It is that same curiosity and childlike wonder that comes through in Seeroo fi al ardh, the artwork you see before you today – and the lasting legacy of a towering figure in the history of modern art.
This unusual art installation, in all its complexity, serves a simple purpose: to pay tribute to mankind’s spirit of innovation. The artwork tells the story of human progress, which began with mankind walking through this earth to discover the wonders of God’s creations.
It is, above all, a response to the divine command cited in the title: Seeroo fi al ardh “Travel through the earth and observe how He began creation…” (Qur’an 29:20).
As centuries passed and civilization progressed, so did human ambition. The installation explores how people in the region manipulated nature, and eventually machines, to shape the world around them. “…Man walked on earth with bare feet to discover the wonders of God’s creation. Man mounted a horse to conquer the land. Man sailed a ship like Sindbad the sailor. Man invented power machines to speed up his endless achievements on earth, sea and air”, said Husain.
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Just when his fans and critics thought that they had seen everything that Maqbool Fida Husain could possibly offer, he reappears. The artist’s latest installation, the Seeroo fi al Ardh, will soon be unveiled in Qatar Foundation’s Education City on 11 December.
This is an artwork imagined to be both kinetic and experiential. The artist visualized the installation in one of his sketches from 2009, having a mosaic wall painting depicting horses, a sculpture of Abbas ibn Firnas suspended from the ceiling, a sculpture of da Vinci’s flying machine, colored glass horses, and vintage cars. In his own words, “the entire ensemble is like a performance of dancing horses in crystal glass set to the tune of traditional song of horsemanship, chivalry and strength”.
The final artwork, staying true to the artist’s original, multi-dimensional concept, has come to consist of the following elements:
coming in blue, red, green, amber, and white, rotating on a circular platform in the middle of the carousel.
The man reputed to have made one of the earliest recorded attempts of flight in the 9th century.
Originally sketched in the 16th century, inspired by the mechanics of winged animals.
On loan from Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum displayed on a circular rotating platform around the artwork.
Forming the backdrop of the carousel. The mosaic wall is made from Trencadís, which is also known as broken tile mosaics.
Synchronized to the choreography of the carousel’s kinetic mechanism.
This artwork is permanently placed on the grounds of Education City, next to Chef’s Garden and Al Shaqab.