Bhupen Khakhar

I hadn’t been to Tate Modern for a while so it was good to be back.  This time I was here to see the Bhupen Khakhar exhibition.  I knew nothing of this Indian artist who spent some time living in the UK but I was attracted by two things:  the signature piece used in the advertising for the exhibition; and the fact that Khakhar had trained in Britain with Howard Hodgkin, whose work I really like.

‘You Cannot Please All’ is the title of the exhibition as well as of one of his paintings.  I read mixed reviews before I went but I found Khakhar’s work to be interesting, sometimes amusing and, above all,poignant, especially when the context of the artist’s state of health and well- being was taken into account; some paintings were completed when he suffered from cataracts and his fight with cancer provided painful background information for his later work.  Of most interest was his expression of his sexuality through his art. Some of his work is explicit but it is the expression of love that comes through most strongly.

Around some of the walls are quotes from Khakhar. His views on the British are the most entertaining.  He suggests that our winter lasts ten months of the year and it is best not to smile here as we British prefer to sulk!  His comment about the British Empire importing hypocrisy to India over same sex relationships is the most telling of all.  Essentially, the artist is right: you cannot please all the people all the time.  I was pleased I went.


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