Friends of Bhupen Khakhar pay tribute

Bhupen Among Friends: A tribute to the life of Bhupen Khakhar by friends, Museum Gallery, August 29, as well as an exhibition of Bhupen Khakhar's drawings and sketch books, opens at Gallery Chemould on the same day and runs till Sept 5)

'A tribute to the life of Bhupen Khakhar by friends' show at The Museum Gallery (29 August- 5 September) is followed by an exhibition of Bhupen Khakhar's Drawings and sketchbooks at Gallery Chemould from August 29 till September 5. Selected works from both exhibitions will continue to be showcased at Gallery Chemould till September end.

A tribute to the life of Bhupen Khakhar is by 'friends' Amit Ambalal, Jogen Chowdhury, Atul Dodiya, Anju Dodiya, Nalini Malani, Mrinalini Mukherjee, Manu Parekh, Madhvi Parekh, Gieve Patel, Sudhir Patwardhan, Gulammohammed Sheikh, Nilima Sheikh, K. G. Subramanyan, and Vivan Sundaram The self-taught, Baroda-based artist passed away two years ago on August 8.

The collected drawings are not necessarily those gifted to artist friends, but also to his wider circle which included theatre personalities, poets, philosophers, and writers'various fields in the arts, which keenly interested Bhupen Khakhar and which, he was a keen participant of. Intimate viewings from sketchbooks will also form part of this exhibition. There will also be a film on the artist by filmmaker Ein Lal.

This exhibition, 'Bhupen Khakhar Among Friends' has been put together to remember the artist through the associations of his many artist friends who have specially created works for this show. It seemed an appropriate appendage as we continue to commemorate this rare human being through the years to come. The artist through their works pay tribute to the late artist. , Gulammohammed Sheikh presents a digitally manipulated photo-image of the artist whereas Nilima Sheikh's tribute to Bhupen Khakhar is a series titled 'Learnig Drawings'. Manu Parekh presents a photo-montage based on intriguing images of the late artist.

As the exhibition brings out, one of the facets of Bhupen Khakhar's life was the companionship of his many friends. Bhupen Khakhar had the rare ability of gathering friends, nurturing these friendships, and in many ways these friendships turning into very interdependent relationships.

Bhupen Khakhar first participated in the inaugural show of Gallery Chemould in 1963, which led to a long association with the gallery. The relationship he had with the artists and the organizers spanned over almost close to four decades.

The participating artists range from friends who had some point or another worked very closely with Bhupen Khakhar, forming what one would call an inner circle of friends. These artist friends were not necessarily from Baroda itself but stayed in different parts of India.

According to gallerist Shireen Gandhy 'it's not only about the unique language that Bhupen Khakhar developed through his art'he loved to spend hours discussing and interacting with artists, writers and his co-artists. It seemed therefore appropriate that the Gallery Chemould is holding this exhibition in memory of Bhupen Khakhar. ''It was the ideal artist-gallery relationship,'' reminisces veteran gallerist Kekoo Gandhy, who was the first to take Khakhar's work overseas with a group exhibition, Art Now in India, in London in 1954.

The director of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, noticed the artist's work at this exhibition. His work soon became one of the first contemporary Indian works acquired by the museum.

'Bhupen Among Friends: A tribute to the life of Bhupen Khakhar by friends' opens at Museum Gallery on August 29, as well as an exhibition of Bhupen Khakhar's drawings and sketch books, opens at Gallery Chemould from August 29 and continues till September 5.

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