Mumbai, Jhaveri Contemporary, Considering Collage, 24 April - 23 May 2013
Although one would imagine Khakhar to be influenced by the Progressives because he had for a time been a student at the J. J. School of Art in Mumbai (then Bombay), he is said to have found it uninspiring and dull. Writing about Khakhar’s time at J. J., as the school is affectionately called, Timothy Hyman states that Khakhar felt it offered ‘absolutely no teaching’ and ‘hardly any direction’. “He [Palsikar] never came to instruct me, even once in six months… I was very cheesed off.” (T. Hyman, ‘Training in Baroda’, Bhupen Khakhar, Chemould Publications and Arts, Mapin Publishing Pvt. Ltd., Ahmedabad, 1998, p. 9) By contrast, the Faculty of Fine Arts at Baroda where he took the Art Criticism course was a breath of fresh air for Khakhar – it was new, it was contemporary. It was in this atmosphere of free and original thought that Khakhar thrived.
When he moved to Baroda in the early 1960s, Khakhar shared a flat for a short while with Jim Donovan, then a fellow student from London in the Old Town of Baroda. Donovan was instrumental in introducing Khakhar to the Pop art movement in Britain at the time, and it was this encounter that formed the central core of Khakhar’s philosophy (Hyman, Ibid, p. 12-13). Collages were some of the first works of art Khakhar produced, and also his rarest because he made such few works. Like many of this contemporaries Khakhar also broke with convention in favour of this radical art form, juxtaposing found objects as a form of artistic expression. His choice of collage as a medium was also probably because Khakhar was not then fully trained as a painter. It would be a few years before Khakhar would make his debut as a painter with People in Dharamshala which he painted in 1968. (T. Hyman, ibid. p. 15)
Wall of a Small Hindu Temple reflects the ‘beauty’ and ‘vitality’ of the colours Khakhar observed in the bustling bazaars and narrow crowded streets and the numerous shrines and temples where he lived. Like most Baroda School artists, Khakhar’s work was about the narrative. The imagery set against a familiar shade of turmeric yellow is one of contrast and contradiction; the image of Nehru with Kennedy is perhaps a commentary on the political climate of the time – Nehru’s utopian vision of an industrialised modern India at odds with her ancient traditions which he alludes to through religious symbolism and fragments cut from calendars and other print media, each on the fringes of art yet expertly brought together in an explosive cacophony. Uncommon for the time, this meld of unusual materials together produce Khakhar’s visual and symbolic blend of mythology, history and language.
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.