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Bhupen Khakhar (1934 - 2003)
The Curtain
Signed in Gujarati on lower right side; signed and titled on reverse in Gujarati and English.
Watercolor on paper
7 7/16 x 12 1/8 in. (18.9 x 30.8 cm.)

Lot Essay

In the 1980's, Bhupen Khakhar's highly narrative paintings became overtly autobiographical as he began to bravely assert his homosexuality in his art. His large scale paintings, which drew inspiration from Henri Rousseau and openly gay artist David Hockney, whom he met in 1979, employ a bold flat use of color and rely increasingly more on shape, than line, to determine the final image. In his watercolors, Khakhar loosens his grip on the brush, allowing the diaphanous pigments to seep into one another, giving the works a soft dreamy feel. This work, entitled The Curtain, shows a man separated by a dark veil from the distant and dream-like world behind him where silhouetted men are shown interacting idly with phallic vegetation. The potent red lips, distinctly out of context on a male visage, intensify the homosexual intonations of the male-dominated landscape and the effeminate appearance of the subject's clothes. The blue modeling of the face adds an element of melancholy to the work, perhaps revealing Khakar's frustration at the impossibility of uniting dream with the dark world around him.
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