Bhupen Khakhar (1934-2003) was a leading artist in Indian contemporary art. He worked in Baroda, and gained international recognition for his work. He played a central role in modern Indian art and was a key international figure in 20th century painting.
Khakhar was known for his unique figurative style and incisive observations of class and sexuality. His works were figurative in nature, concerned with the human body and its identity. A self-professed homosexual, the problem of gender definitions and gender identity were major themes of his work. His paintings often contained learned references to Indian mythology and mythological themes.
Khakhar's oil paintings were often narrative and autobiographical. His first exhibited works presented deities cut from popular prints, glued onto mirrors, supplemented by graffiti and gestural marks. He began to mount solo exhibitions as early as 1965. Though the artist had been largely self-taught, his work soon garnered attention and critical praise. By the 1980s Khakhar was enjoying solo shows in places as far away as London, Berlin, Amsterdam and Tokyo.
"Everything I see is in connection with the figure. "
--------Interview with Sadanand Menon, The Hindu Magazine, 2003
"When I feel I’m telling the truth, then there is no restraint. "
----------Interview with Sadanand Menon, The Hindu Magazine, 2003
"Going to the office for two or three hours gives me the feeling that I have done my duty to society and I feel, now I can go and paint."
-------------The Independent, 2003
Image courtesy of Bhupen Khakhar