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Lot Details

Signed and dated '79' in Gujarati (lower right)
Bearing Anthony Stokes Gallery label (on the reverse)

Private collection, UK
Bonhams / Lot 131 / Modern and Contemporary Indian and Pakistani Art / 21 May 2007

No. 15, Anthony Stokes Gallery, London, June 1979

'Khakhar's work has been characterised by a rare irreverence and a lack of inhibition about his lack of formal training. Indeed, he has been able to evolve his own mode of address that harnesses this lack of training to provide an edge to his expressions. A deliberate naivete is visible in his paintings from the 1970's, coupled with a deeply felt sympathy with his subjects, who are often ordinary folk caught in an existence they do not quite understand. There is also a biting comment on the gentle stupidity of petit bourgeois life; a quality of being frozen in time permeates several of these representations of common people in all their vulnerability. This argument was taken a step further when in the early 1980s, he declared is homoerotic concerns, often with self-referential figures. Observation of the everyday life plays an important role in his work and he is able to zero in on 'typical' characters that the observer can often locate within his/her world.' [...] (Indian Contemporary Art Post Independence, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, 1997, pg. 172)

The work 'Butcher's Shop in London' was one of the two paintings on glass in the Anthony Stokes Exhibition which featured several of the artist's work in 1979. He arrived in England the same year in the middle of a harsh winter to take up the position of artist-in-residence in the painting department at Bath Academy in January and lived nearby at Hodgkin's house, Monk's Park, negotiating the icy lanes in the area on a borrowed moped. Stokes Gallery was located in Covent Garden in one of the former banana warehouses, disused when the fruit and flower markets relocated to another area of the city. The office above the butcher's shop is that of Hope and Co. solicitors which has been one of the subjects of his paintings whilst in England. The traces of snow at the corners of the steps depicts the weather at the time of the artist's stay in the area. The other works made in England were 'Howard Hodgkin's House on Hand Painted Cushion', 'Wiltshire House at Night', and 'Joe Hope and Mary Hope at Box', all of which were painted in 1979.

Bhupen Khakhar

(1934 - 2003)
Born in 1934, Bhupen Khakhar’s career as an artist began quite late, when he was in his thirties. As a chartered accountant who went to study art criticism, he moved on to depicting the “everyday” on canvas. A solo exhibition in the 1970’s propelled him to fame abroad, following which he gained a footing in India as an artist to be reckoned with. Khakhar’s engagement with homosexuality and the dreary existence of the lives of many in India found a powerful outlet in his art. The artist has had numerous solo and group exhibitions, including ‘A Retrospective’ organized by the Fine Art Resource at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), Mumbai in 2003; and exhibitions at Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi in 2002; Optica Gallery, Montreal, and Charles H.Scott Gallery, Vancouver, in 2001-2002. Some of his works were recently exhibited around the world: ‘Long Gone and & Living Now’ at Gallerie Mirchandani + Steinreucke, Mumbai; ‘Progressive to Altermodern: 62 Years of Indian Modern Art’ at Grosvenor Gallery, London; ‘Kalpana: Figurative Art in India’ presented by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) at Aicon Gallery, London; and ‘Shifting Shapes, Unstable Signs’ at Yale School of Art in New Haven, all in 2009. Chemould Art Gallery paid a homage to the artist through an exhibition titled “Aesthetic Bind, Subject of Death” that included his works.The artist was awarded Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1984. Bhupen Khakhar passed away in 2003.