Friday, May 3, 2013

Bhupen Khakhar at Grosvenor Gallery

Grosvenor Gallery recently hosted an exhibition of works by Bhupen Khakhar from a Private British Collection. This year marks the 10th death anniversary for the artist and we will be commemorating him by including drawings, watercolors and a few paintings made during the late 70s to the early 80s.

Bhupen Khakhar studied accounting and explored art in his spare time. After meeting the painter Gulammohammed Sheikh in 1958, he decided to attend art school in Baroda, where he joined a circle of contemporaries who were shaping a new Indian art, among them Mr. Sheikh, Nilima Sheikh, Nalina Malani, Vivan Sundaran and the critic Geeta Kapur.

In 1962 Khakhar was introduced to Pop Art. It, as well as the work of Henri Rousseau, David Hockney and early Italian Renaissance painting, had a lasting effect on him, as did earlier Indian modernism, Rajput miniature painting, popular religious art and his own observation of urban street life.

Several of the pictures of the early 1970s resemble shop signs for tailors, barbers, watch repairers, with vividly and crisply realised props. Implicit in paintings is a humorous acceptance and celebration of a culture previously disregarded, a hybrid, half-westernised culture of lower-middle class urban Indians, for whom Khakhar could act as spokesman.

Bhupen Khakhar’s work began to be included in big international exhibitions. He had his first exhibition in London in 1979 with Anthony Stokes and Hester von Royden and in 1983 he had a show with Kasmin at the Knoedler Gallery. In 1986 he had a show at the Pompidou Center in Paris. Bhupen was also the subject of a book by the British artist Timothy Hyman and a film by Judy Marle. Bhupen’s works continue to be present in the best collections both in India and Abroad.

The gallery also showed a film titled ’Messages from Bhupen Khakhar’ by Judy Marle during the exhibition which just concluded. It was also accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog.

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