Bhupen Khakhar (1934–2003) played a central role in modern Indian art and was a recognised international figure in twentieth century painting. Active from the 1960s, Khakhar was part of a lively new wave of narrative painting and figuration by artists in India that became known as the Baroda School. His practice evolved from the careful study of art from South Asian and European sources, even while he continued to work as an accountant part-time. After early experiments with Pop art, Khakhar developed a style of painting that combined both high and low, popular and painterly aesthetics, cleverly subverting popular iconography. He confronted complex and provocative themes with candour: class difference; desire and homosexuality; and his personal battle with cancer. Also a writer, his critical observations and literary sensibility were evident in his sharp, often ironic depictions of difficult subjects.
The first posthumous survey of Khakhar’s career to be held in the UK, this exhibition brings together his work from across five decades and from collections around the world. In his lifetime Khakhar exhibited frequently in India and abroad, including Documenta IX in Kassel in 1992. While he has been included in group exhibitions at Tate in the past, this retrospective will shed new light on his practice by presenting well known works on canvas and paper alongside rarely seen experimental works including textile, glass and ceramics.