INDIAN CONTEMPORARY ARTIST
- Born in 1934 in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
- Died in 2003 in Baroda, Gujarat, India
- Lived and worked in Baroda, India
UNDERSTANDING THE ARTIST
Observation of the everyday plays an important role in Khakhar's work. By the 1970s Khakhar assumed the role of a chronicler of the oppressed, painting the 'insignificant man' trapped in an unremarkable existence. Through his remarkably vivid representation of tradesmen at work like tailors, barbers, watch repairers, Khakhar explored the quality of humanity and vulnerability in his marginalised subjects. He drew not only on a modernist Pop style, but also from the late eighteenth-nineteenth-century Indian tradition of Company painting, in his renderings of ordinary trade labourers.
In the early 1990s, the artist began to incorporate his experience of homosexuality into paintings often with self-referential themes. The artist’s declaration of his homosexuality showing a self-portrait of the artist watching nude from his balcony an ancient fable of a father, son and a donkey being enacted before him in continuous narration, the myth of an ageing king who asks his son to give him the gift of his youth is given a superfluous sexual charge, two naked men against the backdrop of the sacred Hindu city of Benaras in an erotic embrace, their erect penises almost touching – can all be seen in his paintings.
Sexual explicitness is seen as synonymous with a deepening of the spiritual self in Khakhar’s works. In the earliest stage of the artist's career, figures are designed and stylised in a manner akin to traditional and early modern Indian miniature painting. Later, he develops a way of rendering the body with an unusual plainness, like a bone-less structure with large heads, thin and stiff bodies wearing heavy clothing. The self-taught artist’s lack of formal training is evident in the un-academic treatment of the figures in paintings.
Bhupen Khakhar, Two Men in Benares, 1982, oil on canvas, 175 x 175 cm
Bhupen Khakhar, Yayati, 1987, oil on canvas, 91 X 122 cm
Bhupen Khakhar, The Weatherman, 1979, oil on canvas
Bhupen Khakhar, Man with bouquet of plastic flowers, 1976, oil on canvas, 58 x 56 in
Bhupen Khakhar, Seva, 1986, oil on canvas, 117 x 112 cm
Bhupen Khakhar, Janata Watch Repairing, 1972, oil on canvas, 36.8 x 36.8 in
Bhupen Khakhar, Intimacy, 1993, etching, 60 x 63 cm
Bhupen Khakhar, Death in family, 1978, oil on canvas, 49 x 49 in
Bhupen Khakhar, Barber’s shop, 1972, oil on canvas
Bhupen Khakhar, View from a tea shop, 1974, oil on canvas, 44.8 x 44.8 in