149-77.  From then onwards, male sexuality became a focal trope in his work. Explore the extraordinary paintings of this key figure in modern Indian art. These aren’t the subtlest colour combinations, but, boy, do they sing out. Enjoy your stay :). Bhupen Khakhar (also spelled Bhupen Khakkar, born Bombay 10 March 1934 – died Baroda 8 August 2003) Bhupen Khakhar was a leading artist in Indian contemporary art. Print. The texture and sheen of oil paint is disturbingly evocative of fetid flesh and reveals an inner struggle that Khakhar was tormented with in his last years. Zitzewitz, Karin. Signed and dated in Gujarati lower right.  European travelers to the subcontinent would hire artists to portray daily life, with the intention of bringing these images back to England to show fellow countrymen. Khakhar graces the walls of the Tate with his characteristic irreverence and quirkiness: his colors are brilliant; his men playful. This is also the time when Khakhar worked on a series of “trade paintings”: portraits of men diligently at work in their local shops, allowing for a certain view into a world ordered by their particular line of business. “Bhupen Khakhar’s “Pop” in India, 1970-72.” The Art Journal 71.2 (2012): 44-61. Bhupen Khakhar played a central role in modern Indian art and was a recognised international figure in 20th century painting. “Paan Shop for People: Bhupen Khakhar (1934-2003).” Worldly Affiliations: Artistic Practice, National Identity, and Modernism in India, 1930-1990. He was awarded a CSW Travel Grant in 2017. What made the recent record-breaking years in the art market the most exciting ever? India's most famous Modernist arrives at the Tate Modern – with mixed results Following a trip to London, the late Indian artist Bhupen Khakhar observed that: “You are not allowed to smile during the winter season which lasts for ten months of the year. The milieu he had built for himself in Baroda was a nurturing one: he was surrounded by a group of like-minded artists who were the beginnings of a counterculture that developed in response to the dominant school of painting emerging at the wake of a new nation. 175.6 x 175.6 cm. 168-213. Bhupen Khakhar. As his own relationship to corporality shifted in response to his battle with cancer, so did his approach to it in its painted form. It is a journalistic documentation of the people who populated the artist’s life and an assertion of a borderless pursuit of love — an aspect of Khakhar’s unwavering anti-elitism in both the method in his art and its subject matter. In addition to these prominent positions, the museum is presenting an artist who has yet to be discovered by Western audiences: Bhupen Khakhar. Bhupen Khakhar (1934-2003) was born in Bombay, studied economics and qualified as a chartered accountant. 66 x 55 ⅛ in. The Tate’s very welcome exhibition of the great Indian painter Bhupen Khakhar (1934–2003) is the first international retrospective since the superb show held at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Mumbai three months after the artist’s death. Bhupen Khakhar, “You Can’t Please All”, 1981, oil and paint on canvas, 175.6 x 175.6 cm. The subjects are oftentimes Khakhar’s own lovers, who tended to emerge from lower socioeconomic classes. This is no small part of Khakhar’s legacy: his defiant embrace of men loving men, in both allegorical and earthly realms. Sheikh encouraged Khakhar to attend Faculty of Fine Arts in Baroda and intro… 168-213. As a coda to an oeuvre that celebrated the ecstasies of desire, it is a sad capitulation in terms of content, but resplendent as ever in style.  Baroda would become Khakhar’s permanent home — a respite from the intense urbanity of Bombay, and shelter from the prying eyes of the community he lived in. The works presented by curator Nada Raza offered poetic snapshots of different artistic investments over the course of Khakhar’s life. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2014. We’re left wondering if his use of mythological imagery – the monkey god Hanuman makes an appearance alongside a man with five penises – is intended to be satirical, fantastical, sincerely spiritual or simply funny.  Khakhar’s paintings took this imperial motive and redeployed it for his own inquiries into the lives of his fellow countrymen — the everyday people who would become his muses in both life and art until the end. By this time, there had been two retrospectives of Khakhar’s work, one shortly after his death at the National Gallery of Art in Mumbai, and another mounted at the Reina Sofia in Madrid the previous year. Khakhar’s manipulation of diverse influences suggests parallels with another Western painter, David Hockney, as indeed does his frank treatment of his own homosexuality. Thirteen years have passed since artist Bhupen Khakhar’s death, but his admirers are countless and vocal. The Tate’s capacious approach allows a public still largely unfamiliar with the many artistic revolutions that have taken place outside of the narrow scope of the Euro-American tradition a window into one such visionary oeuvre. Kapur, Geeta. This Tate Modern exhibition in 2016 … He is the subject of a major retrospective at London’s Tate Modern, where his life’s work is welcomed alongside the global greats. Your email address will not be published. 162. Purchased 1996 © Estate of Bhupen Khakhar About the artist A key figure in 20th century painting, Bhupen Khakhar’s pictures depict the world with unflinching honesty and deep humanity. Kapur, Geeta. They are painted lovingly, with unidealized bodies and an unglamorous presence. While we don’t want to be overwhelmed with contextual information, too much about Khakhar’s complex cultural background is left vague. London: Tate Publications, 2016. Print. Bhupen Khakhar, and the possibilities he represents for a new Indian republic, helps mark a welcome shift in the presence of South Asia at monolithic art museums in which research begins with the artist and only then extrapolates towards the nation, and not the reverse. Print. He would care for these frail men intensely, looking after their wellbeing and often their medical expenses. His mother’s death in 1980 also allowed him greater openness about his preferences, as he became less concerned with reactions from his family. But he was also influenced by art history. In At the End of the Day Iron Ingots Came Out he shows a man, presumably representing himself, excreting painfully on the lavatory, with a cross-sectional view into his intestines. Hyman, Timothy, and Bhupen Khakhar. IN THE COCONUT GROVES . Khakhar was born in and died in India, but spent some time working and exhibiting in the United Kingdom. Tickets: 020 7887 8888; tate.org.uk. Ed. In “Gallery of Rogues” (1993), independently framed panels are arranged together in constellation of plebeian faces: lovers from all corners of Baroda who have been the object of Khakhar’s doting admiration. His sexuality, which has been such a critical topic of conversation, is not simply presented for consumption but reflexively considered as a polemical anti-colonial gesture. 110-35. The curators do not shy away from teasing out the complex relationship between the former colonial metropole and the artists who boldly produced art for a new India in the years after 1947. The moral of the story is that despite how much one may try, it is impossible to please everyone. Bhupen Khakhar, however, gives us modern Indian art as the romantically inclined Westerner would like to imagine it: magic realist images of small-town life in vibrantly intense colours, painted with a quirky disregard for Western conventions of space and composition. The sardonic tone in these images stems from his general displeasure at London’s supposed glumness, reflected in paintings such as “Man in Pub” (1979). Mumbai: Mapin Pub., 1998. We urge you to turn off your ad blocker for The Telegraph website so that you can continue to access our quality content in the future. Prior to his arrival in Los Angeles, Sayantan worked in commercial galleries in New York and New Delhi and in the education sector in Shanghai. The works in this room trace Khakhar’s self-directed development, from early experiments with collage to finely detailed oil paintings. 158-165.  Citron, Beth. The face of the older man, though masked by the dark, urgent profile of the younger is recognisably Khakhar's. International painting is at the center of this year’s Tate program: Georgia O’Keeffe, Francis Bacon, Maria Lassnig, and Robert Rauschenberg are being honored with major exhibitions. This subtle nod to queer intention becomes thoroughly explicit in the next age of his career — the legacy of which has in many ways defined his contributions to modernism. This to open just weeks after an curated by art critic and Khakhar’s dear friend, Geeta Kapur, that paid tribute to the late artist by way of the theme of death. Of particular note is the way in which the exhibition succeeds in mining the relationship Khakhar had with England: a fraught set of connections in the postcolonial era. Subscription ... Bhupen Khakhar (1) Exhibition Bhupen Khakhar (1) Print type Custom prints (1) Price £25 - £49.99; £50 - £149.99; £150 - £299.99; Clear all The painting is composed of a continuous narrative in the background, telling the Aesop’s fable of a man, his son, and their donkey. Shop now. “Saint Bhupen.” Bhupen among Friends : A Tribute to Bhupen Khakhar by Friends. Bobby Friction: The sound of Bhupen Khakhar.  The body is no longer a site of sex and love, and more so a place of decay. Web. Bhupen Khakhar, “You Can’t Please All”, 1981, oil and paint on canvas, 175.6 x 175.6 cm. At the Tate which is an institution in its own right extremely exlcusive in its choice of artists and exhibitions how did Bhupen Khakar become the Indian artist who is … Khakhar referenced the work of two sixteenth-century Dutch artists, Pieter Brueghel the Elder’s depictions of peasant life and Hieronymous Bosch’s supernatural worlds. 13-25. Can I go to a museum? While the exhibition tells us that Khakhar, an admirer of Ghandi, began painting everyday Indian life for essentially political reasons, we have to go to the catalogue to find out that he was associated with a band of artists, the Baroda Group, that looked to indigenous subjects in rebellion against the more mainstream modernism of India’s dominant art movement, the so-called Progressives.  This was the everyman that appeared and reappeared in his paintings: the tea shop owner, the zoo keeper, the average city dweller. “The Uncommon Universe of Bhupen Khakhar.” Pop Art and Vernacular Cultures. Print. W ithin his career and thereafter, Bhupen Khakhar has received the most international and highly regarded institutional attention of any Indian artist. Painted in 1993 In a quote from the artist placed underneath wall text in the exhibition’s last room, Khakhar speaks of India’s repressive sexual mores as a Victorian hand-me-down. 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Geeta Kapur, “Mortality Morbidity Masquerade,” Dercon, Chris, and Nada Raza, eds. It was after his stint in London that Khakhar started speaking openly about his sexuality, reflecting on how sexually liberated people seemed to be in the old metropole. We should read Jonathan Jones’ review in The Guardian of Bhupen Khakhar’s retrospective at the Tate Modern as an expected irritant – he (still) writes like a provincial Englishman. Khakhar’s more humble subjects, the local barber, watchmaker and tailor, were thus beatified in these sensitive and observant portraits. Kapur, Geeta. 123-48. He holds a BA from Williams College in Comparative Literature and Art History. But his most important and comprehensive expose was arguably the current show mounted at the Tate Modern, titled after his seminal painting “You Can’t Please All” (1981). The exhibition, “You Can’t Please All”, opened earlier this year. After meeting the painter Gulam Mohammed Sheikh in 1958, he became interested in … This includes rarely seen ceramic works, the exhibition catalog he produced for his show at Chemould Gallery in 1978, and a video documentary made by Judy Marle. The Bhupen Khakhar retrospective “You Can’t Please All” opened on 1 June 2016 at the Tate Modern, supported by the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, and runs until 6 November 2016 as part of an ongoing partnership between the London museum and Berlin’s Deutsche Bank Kunsthalle, where it will travel to next. 153. The textures of daily life in India — particularly the cheap reproductions of Hindu idols, seen pasted on walls of roadside temples — made appearances in pastiche collages. Khullar, Sonal. Despite having been qualified as a chartered accountant before moving to Baroda in 1962, he joined the Art Criticism course at the Faculty of Fine Arts where he started painting and became involved with the seminal Narrative- Figurative movement. Tate Museum, London. But there’s no attempt to expand on this for the non-Indian viewer. 1934 - 2003. In You Can’t Please All, the painting that gives the show its title, a naked man (the artist, we are led to understand) looks out into a street from a balcony, with scenes in the neighbouring buildings visible in a way that is hardly realistic, but vividly conveys the merging of the public and private worlds in Indian life. Exhibitions of non-Western modern art can give the impression of worthy side-shows to the main events in Paris, New York or London, or of artists who are suspended frustratingly between cultures. Khakhar painted life in the Indian “beta” city, overshadowed by their large metropolitan counterparts, capturing its grit and glory in equal measure. Bhupen Khakhar: You Can’t Please All. Six Indian Painters: Rabindranath Tagore, Jamini Roy, Amrita Sher-Gil, M.F. From Rio to Beirut to Mumbai, it seems, Western abstraction and conceptual art have been the dominant influences for a good half century. Print. The treatment of foliage and flowers in Man Leaving (Going Abroad) appears lifted from Rousseau in a highly knowing way. Born in Mumbai in 1934, Khakhar worked as a factory accountant in the provincial city of Baroda, painting only in his spare time, bringing to mind a kind of Indian LS Lowry, and also the great French primitivist Henri Rousseau – a parallel that appears far from accidental. During this time, he began experimenting in material and showed a particular interest in the art of the street. Two men stand in naked embrace, their erect penises almost touching. Main image: Man Leaving (Going Abroad), 1970 by Bhupen Khakhar Courtesy of Tapi Collection, India (c) Estate of Bhupen Khakhar. Why Arthur Conan Doyle’s favourite character wasn’t the ‘consulting detective’, From Ravilious to Rothko: how looking at paintings can lift our spirits. The Tate’s decision to celebrate his abbreviated life reveals not simply a desire to shine light on alternative modernisms that flourished internationally in the 20th century, but ones that also worked against the grain of prevailing conservative values within a given region. Yet while we are told that he drew on external elements from Sienese religious frescoes to Western Pop Art and Bollywood, alongside various forms of traditional Indian art, we are shown only early work – a Pop-influenced painting from 1965. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1998, and lost his battle against the disease in 2003. Often celebrated for his bold and honest approach to his life as a gay man in India during the late twentieth century, he stated in the catalogue to his 1972 exhibition at Gallery Chemould, Bombay that he wanted … The exhibition was an homage to the artist’s late style, which started to show a preoccupation with morbidity and mortality in the late ‘90s. A contingent of the second wave of modernists to rise to prominence in India, Khakhar’s paintings started to garner attention in the 1970s with their commitment to a vision of Indian urbanism that was hitherto occluded by the dominance of the Bombay in the early years after independence. He worked as a chartered accountant for many years before becoming an artist. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *. The preoccupation with same-sex union becomes a focal element of Khakhar’s paintings in the 80s and 90s, oftentimes married with iconography from Hindu mythology and folkloric practice. There is a new age underway in which European and American museums are beginning to see Indian modern art not in terms of national or cultural parameters, but as another strain in the very plural experience of modernism in the global context. Filmed in Baroda, Messages From Bhupen Khakhar 1983 is an intimate profile of the artist speaking about many of the works in the exhibition. It was clear that time passed on by, but love for Bhupen remained as ardent as ever. The Tate’s intervention has canonized Khakhar as an essential figure in the story of South Asian modernism, while also asserting the entire movement as a viable category for deep curatorial research in leading contemporary art museums worldwide. He holds a pair of driving gloves near his crotch: the fingers bunching into a bouquet of phalluses. Print. He journeyed to the USSR, Yugoslavia, England and Italy. Yet you won’t spend long in front of these beguiling images before you start wondering how much in them is naïve, how much is pseudo-naïve and how much is making a sophisticated play with our expectations of Indian art. In these decades, any timidness around the male body and eroticism disappears, allowing for graphic images that explore love and lust between Indian men. Bhupen Khakhar's You Can't Please All (1981), the painting that gives Tate's new show its name Credit: Tate; © Bhupen Khakhar Mark Hudson warms … This landmark event ushers in a new age in the display of South Asian contemporary, heralding the possibility of institutional support for a truly international interpretation of modernism. The show, in its multi-pronged approach, manages to resurrect a resplendent image of such a beloved figure, doing justice to the deep affective ties he still holds among so many members of the Indian art community today. Bhupen Khakhar was born in 1934 to a Gujarati family in Bombay. London: Tate Gallery, 1982. This room takes its title from the 1999 painting in which Khakhar boldly painted the agony he suffered during cancer treatment. The story recounts the tale of the pair leading a donkey to the market in order to sell it, while receiving innumerable pieces of advice from passers-by along the way, each suggesting a different configuration for easy and efficacious travel. But he found life in London glum and “grumpy”, communicating as much through the paintings he executed there, two of which are on show in the the exhibition’s second room. When Khakhar was asked why the donkey was sporting an erection, he responded, “Because he is carrying two men.” The man in the painting, with his back towards us, may very well be enjoying the view just as much. Several times over, it has been cited as a ‘coming out’ — a declarative announcement of a gay identity that Khakhar claimed and opened up for discussion by way of this image. 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