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Bhupen Khakhar

BHUPEN KHAKHAR was born in 1934. Bhupen Khakhar's painting take as their starting point everyday life in an Indian provincial town where he now lives. The values and the taste of the Indian lower middle class of which he is a part are both celebrated and satirized in his paintings. Mock leather and mock chandeliers furnish Bhupen Khakhar's paintings and his family home in Baroda. This is the world from which he has come and to which he still feels that he belongs. He loves it and he hates it. The praises and the poses in the advertisements that bloom all over small towns in India are things to admire and subvert. His own collection is of mass produced images of popular culture and pictures turned out for pilgrims. Visual clich?s come from both West and East in a Khakhar exhibition. I make an effort all the time to be conscious when I'm travelling, when I see people. The people I paint have to become an obsession first in my mind. I have to get emotional about them. Then I paint them. The things I paint are not spectacular; they are ordinary here in India. When I started the Guru Jayanti paintings I was thinking about Mantegna's mural at Mantua. We often make social adjustments in order to please people. We forget our duty towards ourselves. What we should do in life and art is to do exactly what we like. The difficulty, maybe is to find out what one likes" I accept the self and the ego which govern the artist. They are the driving forces for him to create his work. Very few artists have an objective view about other artist's work. They are involved in their own work which does not allow them to appreciate a totally different point of view. During the seminar many point of view were thrown at us. Khb65: Over the past decade the work of Bhupen Khakhar has been filled with images of love and tenderness in which both he and his partner figure quite prominently. Bhupen celebrates life as a gay man in his paintings and his images are rarely anything other than poetic. In the present painting Bhupen explore his interest in narrative painting by using a well-known device from Indian popular painting - that of a central or core image surrounded by vignettes from daily life. His lasting interest in the values and tastes of lower middle class India is expressed in his use of cheaply printed cotton fabric on which the work is painted. STATEMENT Khakhar may be said to be the one artist who has successfully captured the essence of middle class urban India. His inspiration is the rich source of popular imagery, notably calendar art. In rendering the multi - layered lives of the urban middle class, Khakhar is never disdainful of the subject. The effect he achieves is that of both an insider connected to the subject as well as an objective observer....ExC Sotheby's Contemporary Indian Paintings, December 2000. (5/12/2002)