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BHUPEN KHAKHAR (1934-2003)
PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF ABHISHEK AND RADHIKA PODDAR
BHUPEN KHAKHAR (1934-2003)

Interior of a Temple

Details
BHUPEN KHAKHAR (1934-2003)
Interior of a Temple
inscribed and titled 'To / Bhupen / Khakhar / To BRC / FROM - S R Shah / AHMEDABAD / INTERIOR / OF / A / TEMPLE / ADi / LT - 120-1 / BRC / BHUPEN / KHAKHAR' and further bearing a partial Kunika Chemould Art Center label and Gallery Chemould label (on the reverse)
mixed media on board
48 x 47¾ in. (121.9 x 121.3 cm.)
Painted circa 1965
Provenance
Gallery Chemould, Mumbai
Apparao Galleries, Chennai
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Brought to you by

Umah Jacob
Umah Jacob

Lot Essay

“It was through Western Pop Art That Bhupen Began to look at the virulent popular culture of India […] The first sustained phase beginning in 1965 related to two main sources; the icon-images of wayside temples and hand-painted shop signs […] A wall surface, a stone, a tree trunk, or an upturned pot are smeared with red paint to mark them as auspicious and an offering of food, flowers and incense are placed before the spot. This creates an ‘instant’ temple.” (G. Kapur, In Quest of Identity: Art and Indigenism in Post-Colonial Culture with Special Reference to Contemporary Indian Painting, Baroda, 1973, unpaginated)

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 vital role in exposing Khakhar to the artistic vocabulary of Western Pop Art, which the artist soon assimilated and applied to his own practice.

Interior of a Temple, executed in the mid-1960s is part of a small body of work in that embodies this exciting formative period of experimentation out of which emerged his now iconic style. This work uses a bold, kitsch Pop aesthetic and combines it with the vivid pallete of classical miniature paintings to create a pastiche depiction of religious iconography in a street culture style. The iconic subject matter and use of collage reminiscent of Robert Rauschenberg gives the present work a mock votive quality and a sense of Post-Modern playfulness. These 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 recent major retrospective of the artist's work at the Tate Modern in London this year.

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