Hema Upadhyay reflects upon issues of gender, caste and dislocation in her art. Combining dissonant elements, her works evoke a sense of transient nostalgia belonging to no specific place or time. Joining the ranks of artists Cindy Sherman, Matthew Barney, Lucas Samaras and Chuck Close, Upadhyay personalizes the majority of her work through self-portraiture, in this case a collaged photograph fragment. She chooses the photograph for its ability to record, avoiding the more subjective qualities of painting and drawing in depicting herself.
Quoting an Indian art historical tradition steeped in the study of craft and textile design, her works have patterned and often decorative surfaces, seen in the floral textile pattern here, which she purposely 'interrupts' with a collaged photo of herself. Upadhyay, typically the only human figure in her work, depicts a landscape of the imagination where she is able to interact with both fictional and the fantastic.
Living in Mumbai, the city-which-churns-desires, I make art by juxtaposing two different mediums, Painting and Photography. This particular painting evolves from Dharavi, migrants from everywhere make this urban claustrophobia, paired with the intense longing to strive for a dream of survival in abundance, are elements that sum up to my this body of art works. Self-image, essentially functions as a resistance-mechanism, projecting insecurities of rootless-ness and dilemmas of existential crisis in a big city.
Hema Upadhyay (in dialogue with the artist)