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BHUPEN KHAKHAR (1934-2004)
These lots have been imported from outside the EU … Read more PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN, SWITZERLAND"My time in India, from 1966 to 1969, was instrumental in my purchase of Pan Shop No. 1 by Bhupen Khakhar. I was posted to New Delhi by my company, a multi-national food group, in the role of All-India Products Manager, having worked for them in Trinidad in the Caribbean for a number of years. During my time there I worked in the great cities of Bombay, Calcutta, Madras and New Delhi, to meet and discuss with our salesforce and distributors, shop-keepers in the bazaar and sometimes with the owners of the tiniest of roadside shacks, all to try to understand what made the Indian market-place tick. Not long after my arrival, I needed to find a home to live in. After a lot of chasing around I eventually found an elegant-newly built house in the Greater Kailash quarter of New Delhi. But I needed to furnish it, and had lots of white wall-space to fill which called for some paintings and rugs to make it into a home.That, in a nutshell, is how I found my way to Kunika Chemould Art Centre in New Delhi, one Saturday afternoon in early 1966, seeking something special to offset the white space. That soon changed, however, when a magnetic collage in robust red stopped me in my tracks. A charming lady from the gallery started to explain what it was all about. Pan Shop No. 1, she said, was painted by Bhupen Khakhar and represented the artist’s desire to portray the life and work of the ordinary people of India, through the paan wallah, the man who makes and sells the paan on the street.The paan wallah, she continued, often uses an open suitcase for his shop, sitting by the side of the road, selling paan and things like combs and mirrors, and pictures of Hindu gods. In this collage, Khakhar has also included a photo of the much revered second Prime Minister of India, Lal Bahadur Shastri, in his Gandhi cap. The work also has three mirrors on which the artist has written messages in Gujarati; one humourously reads ‘cash today, for credit come tomorrow’. Hearing all of this, I decided immediately to buy Pan Shop No. 1 as I could see it would look wonderful on my walls, and there was a real social and political story woven into its fabric, which projected ‘India’ as I knew it.In my opinion, Pan Shop No. 1 is an amazing early work by Bhupen Khakhar which highlights the role of the paan shop in everyday Indian life with a sense of humour and a sociopolitical touch. It also dramatises the red saliva spitting action of paan users with its large red splodges, etched with white paint, to make the work a powerful mélange and magnetic focal point. For 50 years, Pan Shop No. 1 has given me great enjoyment, renewing my memories of India and the smiles on the faces of its working people, and I hope it offers the buyer the same joy." - J.W.
BHUPEN KHAKHAR (1934-2003)

Pan Shop No. 1

Details
BHUPEN KHAKHAR (1934-2003)
Pan Shop No. 1
titled and inscribed 'Pan Shop No 1 / Rs 300/-'; further inscribed and titled 'Bhupen Khakhar / Pan Shop No 1' on Gallery Chemould label (on the reverse)
oil and collage on canvas
33 x 33 in. (83.8 x 83.8 cm.)
Executed circa 1965
Provenance
Kunika Chemould Art Centre, New Delhi
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1966
Special notice

These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale using a Temporary Import regime. Import VAT is payable (at 5%) on the Hammer price. VAT is also payable (at 20%) on the buyer’s Premium on a VAT inclusive basis. When a buyer of such a lot has registered an EU address but wishes to export the lot or complete the import into another EU country, he must advise Christie's immediately after the auction.

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Alicia Churchward
Alicia Churchward

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Lot Essay

Bhupen Khakhar, a chartered accountant by trade, moved from Bombay to Baroda in 1962 to study Art Criticism at the Faculty of Fine Arts at M.S. University, in search of the community and environment he craved to sustain his creative process. These first few years in Baroda were critical for Khakhar’s artistic development. It was home to the Baroda Group, a pioneering art collective formed in 1956 by artists from the Faculty of Fine Arts at M.S. University, including G.R Santosh, K.G. Subramanyan, N.S. Bendre and Jyoti Bhatt. Although the group formally disbanded the year of Khakhar’s arrival, it had firmly established Baroda as an important centre for artistic exchange, out of which emerged a new generation of the Indian avant-garde. In this community, Khakhar also met British Pop artists Derek Boshier and Jim Donovan, the latter sharing a house with Khakhar for eight months.

Donovan played a critical role in Khakhar’s early career by exposing him to the vocabulary of Western Pop Art, which the artist soon assimilated and applied to his own practice. “It was through Western Pop Art that Bhupen Began to look at the virulent popular culture of India. There is an overwhelming manifestation of popular tastes in India: it is visible in the pictures of gods and goddesses, film stars, national leaders; in shop signs, theatres, temples and restaurants; in the manufacture of cheap industrial goods. There is an orgy of visual images that clamber upon each other and seduce their audience with a surreptitious eroticism [...] It seems to me that Bhupen as an artist was persuaded to respond to popular culture only on the assurance of Western Pop Art.” (G. Kapur, In Quest of Identity: Art and Indigenism in Post-Colonial Culture with Special Reference to Contemporary Indian Painting, Baroda, 1973, unpaginated)

In 1963 Khakhar began to collect and collage images of gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon. Soon, Khakhar was combining these collages with swathes of vivid paint in larger works like Pan Shop No. 1, executed in the mid-1960s. Together, this small body of work embodies an exciting formative period of experimentation for the artist out of which emerged his now iconic style.

Pan Shop No. 1 balances a bold, yet kitschy Pop aesthetic with the vivid palette of classical miniature paintings to create a pastiche depiction of bazaar iconography. At the heart of these bazaars would often be a paan shop, where locals gathered and exchanged the day’s news while chewing potent mouthfuls of betel leaf, areca nut and tobacco, and staining the surroundings with their vivid red expectorate. Perhaps it is these tell-tale stains left by paan chewers that Khakhar references in the intense red that dominates this canvas.

The iconic subject matter and use of collage reminiscent of Robert Rauschenberg gives the present work both a mock votive quality and a sense of Post-Modern playfulness. These early works were exhibited in Khakhar’s first solo show at the Jehangir Art Gallery in Mumbai in 1965, and a similar work from this series was included in the major 2016 retrospective of the artist’s work at the Tate Modern in London.

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