Residency Bungalow, an important early work by Bhupen Khakhar, leads Bonhams
Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art sale on Tuesday 6 June in New Bond Street, London. Painted in 1969, the work was exhibited at the 1969 Sao Paulo Biennale before being acquired by a private American Collection in the early 1970s, where it has remained ever since. The work has an estimate of £250,000-350,000.
Bhupen Khakhar (1934-2003) played a central role in modern Indian art and was recognised for his unique figurative style and incisive observations of class and sexuality. He often explored openly homosexual themes at a time when it was not generally addressed within India, and celebrated the day-to-day lives of the common man. An accountant turned self-taught artist, who came to painting quite late in life as a member of the Baroda Group, Khakhar approached his work with humour, attentiveness, and a boldness which gained him a reputation as India's first Pop artist. In 2016 he was the subject of a major retrospective at the Tate in London. His work is included in major galleries and private collections across the world.
Priya Singh, Bonhams specialist, Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art, commented: Khakhar moved into Residency Bungalow in 1968. It was his first significant home away from Bombay and was symbolic of the new artistic family that Khakhar had adopted from 1962 in Baroda. It would be the place where his signature style emerged, aspects of which can be seen in this painting. It is rare for such an important work like this to come to the market and we are sure it will excite collectors.
Writing in the Summer edition of Bonhams Magazine, Mark Hudson, states: The Bungalow, where he lived with several other key artists of the period, represented the realisation of his long-held dream of becoming a painter. It is captured in a haunting and deceptively simple image, under the evident influence of traditional Indian miniatures. At the time of its creation, Khakhar was starting to achieve commercial success, and about to embark on the works that made him famous. Yet he was still working part-time as an accountant, taking care of the financial affairs of the owners of the building: the Royal Family of Baroda.