Late, great artist’s masterpiece has been brought to reality at Education City – with QF remembering his genius at a special event on the 10th anniversary of his death
Seeroo fi al ardh – the final work of the world-renowned artist M.F. Husain – is a “destination” that will help to put Qatar on the global art map, experts have said as an award-winning short documentary about his life, work, and genius was premiered internationally by Qatar Foundation on the 10th anniversary of his death.
Commissioned by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation, Seeroo fi al ardh – which opened in December 2019 - is regarded by many as Husain’s crowning masterpiece. Envisaged by the artist before he passed away in 2011, and designed to tell the story of how innovation steered the progress of civilization in the Arab region through a multidimensional creative experience, it was the most ambitious work of his career – and it has now been brought to reality in a permanent home at Qatar Foundation’s (QF) Education City.
A decade on from his death, QF and SCALE magazine partnered for a special online event at which a documentary focusing on Husain’s “creative universe”, developed by Qatar production company The Film House, was given its first public screening, followed by a panel discussion that delved into what makes Husain – and Seeroo fi al ardh – so special.
“The appeal of Husain is magnetic and universal,” explained Ranjit Hoskote, a poet, art critic, cultural theorist, and independent curator, who moderated the discussion. “And he was one of the few artists who reached out to other arts.
Husain drew his inspiration from the great, continuing human adventure, and his last work continues to speak for him.
“To me, it seems that Seeroo fi al ardh is the manifestation of his desire to create an installation that is open, interactive, and brings people in to experience art in a multidimensional way. Husain drew his inspiration from the great, continuing human adventure, and his last work continues to speak for him – standing at QF and open to the world, perhaps marking the apex of his creative vision.”
According to Layla Ibrahim Bacha, Senior Art Specialist and Seeroo fi al ardh project supervisor, QF, who was among the experts discussing Husain’s influence on both the world of art and the world as a whole: “Studying and researching his writings and drawings made me realize how, when he created his work, he was not only fulfilling a creative urge, but aspiring to make a long-term impact on the community around him.
As a place of education, the educational aspect of art, and how knowledge is transferred from it and how it is provided for everyone to see, is very important to QF
“Husain did everything – painting, film, furniture, cinema billboards, as well as being a writer – and, with Seeroo fi al ardh, he joined all those elements together in one single artwork. He was completing his art journey; it is a very complex work, but we are very happy that QF was able to complete Seeroo fi al ardh as he would have expected.
“As a place of education, the educational aspect of art, and how knowledge is transferred from it and how it is provided for everyone to see, is very important to QF. We are confident that Seeroo fi al ardh will be a destination not only for our community in Qatar, but for those visiting or just passing through the country – it’s something to come here and see, even for just a few hours, because it is a one-of-a-kind experience.”
As well as being timeless, he was also timely. If he was alive today, he would be working with scientists and startups to make something new
Bose Krishnamachari, an artist, curator, and President of the Kochi Biennale Foundation, described seeing Seeroo fi al ardh come to fruition in the way Husain intended as being “amazing”, and characterized the artist as “generous, passionate – and impatient”.
“A great artist is unpredictable,” he explained. “With Husain, you could never read him or tell what he was going to do next, and that is one of the reasons he sustained.
“As well as being timeless, he was also timely. If he was alive today, he would be working with scientists and startups to make something new.”
We tried to tell his story in a way he would be happy with – being creative, as he would have wanted us to be
And Dimitri Yuri, award-winning director at The Film House and a QF alumnus, spoke about how he “jumped at the chance” to crystallize Husain’s life into just 10 minutes through the documentary, saying: “We tried to tell his story in a way he would be happy with – being creative, as he would have wanted us to be.
“What fascinated me was that he was an observer of the world and the human experience, and Seeroo fi al ardh highlights this. Looking at his work is like watching a performance of life happening in front of us. I can’t shake the feeling that when he was watching the things we experience every day, he saw it as the most beautiful and complex thing he had ever seen. That shines through in his work.”
The Seeroo fi al ardh documentary has been selected for the Las Cruces International Film Festival, the Jaipur International Film Festival, and the 10th Bangalore Shorts Film Festival, and has won awards at the Crown Wood International Film Festival in India, and the Spotlight Doc Awards.
Seeroo fi al ardh is currently closed to the public due to COVID-19, but will reopen to the public later in the year, and more details will be announced closer to the time. To watch the documentary and webinar, and find out more about M.F. Husain’s unique final work, visit www.qf.org.qa/community/seeroo-fi-al-ardh