London, Mumbai and Delhi art lovers came out in force this week to the Tate Modern to celebrate the art and life of one of India's most beloved painters, Bhupen Khakhar.


SOTHEBY'S PREFERRED GUESTS AT BHUPEN KHAKHAR EXHIBITION, YOU CAN’T PLEASE ALL, AT LONDON’S TATE MODERN

This is a historic moment for an Indian artist to be presented on such a prominent international platform. The outstanding retrospective at the Tate Modern was conceived by former Tate impresario Chris Dercon and curator Nada Raza. It has been a project years in the making since Dercon came across Khakhar's body of work decades before.

Titled after a key work, You Can’t Please All, the show is supported by Delhi's Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, whose chairperson Kiran Nadar has lent works to the show including American Survey Officer, 1969, the cover lot from Sotheby’s 2013, New York sale of Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art. The museum also supported the exhibition of Nasreen Mohamedi at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art earlier this year, demonstrating the cross cultural partnerships between top international museums and one of India's newest and most innovative local institutions.

The Tate Modern exhibition has a spectacular array of works that were almost like leafing through the artist's albums over a 40 year period. Bhupen Khakhar is often regarded as India's first 'Pop' artist and with his shock of white hair and gap-toothed smile, it is not hard to see some parallels in the way he and Andy Warhol in America changed and challenged their respective art circles.


SOTHEBY'S PREFERRED EVENT AT LONDON’S TATE MODERN

Largely self-taught, coming from a conservative Gujarati background and trained as an accountant, the survey at the Tate is largely chronological using themes and titles from Khakhar’s works to document his stylistic evolution.

The early works reference Indian miniatures and pichavai textiles alongside the paintings of Henri Rousseau. From his depictions of society and the underclasses in their daily toil to his coming to terms with his sexuality and finally his mortality, this exhibition is all at once, moving, personal, open, poignant, funny, stark and brutally unflinching. We see his whole life pass through the honesty of paintings and it is a liberating experience for all.

Bhupen Khakhar You Can’t Please All is at Tate Modern until 6 November 2016

Yamini Mehta is Sotheby’s International Head of Indian and South Asian Art