Bhupen Khakhar


Untitled (Portrait of Pandoo) | Mumbai | oil on canvas | 106 x 83.8 cm.



“Khakhar blends together in his work various traditions—eastern and western—with complete naturalness, and in doing so becomes the symbol of a new world.”

Enrique Juncosa,  Director of the Irish Museum of Modern Art


Bhupen Khakhar's unique, perceptive and challenging works made him one of India's most revered—and often controversial—contemporary artists. He was an iconoclast of the highest order, slyly subverting and disrupting social norms, often with a measure of deadpan, Warholian humor. As Holland Cotter put it for the New York Times, “His focus on narratives, which combined daily life and fantasy, stood in contrast to the abstraction and expressive figuration that prevailed among progressive artists of an older generation. He set himself further apart from the earlier generation in the 1980's when he made his homosexuality a chief subject of his art.” Bhupen Khakhar's unique, perceptive and challenging works made him one of India's most revered—and often controversial—contemporary artists. He was an iconoclast of the highest order, slyly subverting and disrupting social norms, often with a measure of deadpan, Warholian humor. As Holland Cotter put it for the New York Times, “His focus on narratives, which combined daily life and fantasy, stood in contrast to the abstraction and expressive figuration that prevailed among progressive artists of an older generation. He set himself further apart from the earlier generation in the 1980's when he made his homosexuality a chief subject of his art.”

Khakhar's portraits of middle-class India are characterized by their complex spatial arrangements, bold use of color and dark humor. They also tend to possess a strong sense of narrative. Khakhar often draws from reality, recreating his observations of the urban middle class man and his surroundings with an acute attention to detail. Incorporating the bold and bright colors used in pop art, Khakhar's paintings simultaneously display a faux naivete and primitivism that references traditional textiles and pichhavais.

Internationally acclaimed, his work has exhibited across the world, with solo shows at museums and galleries in Berlin, Amsterdam, London, Frankfurt, Vancouver, Delhi and Mumbai, to name a few, along with numerous group exhibitions worldwide. He was also awarded several honors along the way, including the Asia Cultural Council Fellowship, in New York (1986); and the Indian Governement’s Padma Shri in 1984, one of the country’s highest civilian awards.

Born in Baroda, Khakhar grew up in Mumbai and received his B.A. there from Mumbai University before returning to Baroda in 1962.  Back in Baroda he earned a Masters in art criticism from the Maharaja Sayajirao Univeristy in 1964. He died in 2003.

Internationally acclaimed, his work has exhibited across the world, with solo shows at museums and galleries in Berlin, Amsterdam, London, Frankfurt, Vancouver, Delhi and Mumbai, to name a few, along with numerous group exhibitions worldwide. He was also awarded several honors along the way, including the Asia Cultural Council Fellowship, in New York (1986); and the Indian Governement’s Padma Shri in 1984, one of the country’s highest civilian awards.

Born in Baroda, Khakhar grew up in Mumbai and received his B.A. there from Mumbai University before returning to Baroda in 1962.  Back in Baroda he earned a Masters in art criticism from the Maharaja Sayajirao Univeristy in 1964. He died in 2003.


Read More

Works by Bhupen Khakhar

Specialists in South Asian Modern+Contemporary Art at Christie's

  • Deepanjana D. Klein PhD
    • South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art
    • New York
    • International Head of Department
    • dklein@christies.com
    • +1 212 636 2189
  • Sonal Singh

More Specialists