November 17, 2016 - Deutsche Bank KunstHalle - Bhupen Khakhar: You Can’t Please All
November 17, 2016

Deutsche Bank KunstHalle

Bhupen Khakhar, You Can't Please All, 1981. Oil paint on canvas. Courtesy Tate Collection, London. © Estate of Bhupen Khakhar.

Bhupen Khakhar
You Can’t Please All
November 18, 2016–March 5, 2017

Deutsche Bank KunstHalle
Deutsche Bank KunstHalle
Unter den Linden 13/15
10117 Berlin
Germany

www.deutsche-bank-kunsthalle.com
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Bhupen Khakhar
You Can’t Please All
November 18, 2016–March 5, 2017

Deutsche Bank KunstHalle
Deutsche Bank KunstHalle
Unter den Linden 13/15
10117 Berlin
Germany

www.deutsche-bank-kunsthalle.com
Facebook / Twitter

With Bhupen Khakhar: You Can’t Please All, the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle is presenting the first comprehensive exhibition of the Indian painter in Germany. Renowned for his vibrant palette, unique style, and bold examination of class and sexuality, Khakhar (1934–2003) played a central role in modern Indian art, but was also a key international figure in 20th century painting. The first posthumous survey of Khakhar’s career, this exhibition—previously on view at Tate Modern—will bring together his work from across five decades and from collections around the world. In his lifetime Khakhar exhibited frequently in India and abroad, including documenta IX in Kassel in 1992 and Century City at Tate Modern in 2001. This retrospective will shed new light on his practice by presenting well known works on canvas and paper alongside rarely seen experimental works including textile, glass and ceramics.

Khakhar came from a family of modest means. As the first male to go to university and train as an accountant, he was expected to pursue a corporate career. As a painter he was self-taught. Active from the 1960s Khakhar was part of a lively new wave of narrative painting and figuration by artists in India that became known as the Baroda School. His practice evolved from the careful study of art from South Asian and European sources, even while he continued to work as an accountant part-time. After early experiments with Pop art Khakhar developed a style of painting that combined both high and low, popular and painterly aesthetics, cleverly subverting popular iconography. He was known for his garish colors and awkward figuration, his interest in cheap or street aesthetics, and his sympathy for the visual world of the common man. All this represented a cheeky rebellion against the “good taste” of the upper class.

The title of the exhibition comes from the iconic painting You Can’t Please All (1981) from the Tate collection. A naked figure stands with his back to the viewer, overlooking a dramatic scene, the depiction of a cautionary tale about a father and son who lose their prize donkey because they heed the meddlesome comments of passers-by. Thought to be a self-portrait, this painting was completed a few years after the artist returned to India after a short period in Britain. Khakhar courageously decided to be open about his homosexuality in his life and work.

Khakhar was influenced by Gandhi, and was committed to relating the truth as a guiding principle. The artist confronted complex and provocative themes with candour: class difference; desire and homosexuality; and his personal battle with cancer. Khakhar’s intuitive understanding of the tensions between beauty and the grotesque resulted in unabashed depictions of human love and desire, weakness and suffering. His powerful work from this period is highlighted in this exhibition, bringing his unique and still relevant voice back into international circulation.

The exhibition has been realized in cooperation with Tate Modern.

A comprehensive supporting program is accompanying the exhibition. A Curator’s Tour with Nada Raza introduces Bhupen Khakhar and guides visitors through You Can’t Please All. During Close Ups, curator Natasha Ginwala, as well as gallerist Ranjana Steinrücke, shed light on various aspects of Khakhar’s life and work. An Artist’s Talk with Sarnath Banerjee focuses on humor and social criticism in Indian art. Two panels of prominent experts address Khakhar’s links to traditional Indian art and, taking the artist’s engagement with homosexuality as a point of departure, discuss how queer feminist interventions can be successful in the classical museum world.

More information at deutsche-bank-kunsthalle.com and db-artmag.com.

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You Can’t Please All
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