Walsh Gallery

Sheikh / Khakhar: Contemporary Indian Art

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Dates: Apr 12 2002 - May 18 2002

Chicago, IL, March 15, 2002 – Two of India’s most important living artists, Gulammohammed Sheikh and Bhupen Khakhar, will visit Chicago April 12–18. Renowned for their narrative paintings, they depict contemporary life in India and address such timely and provocative issues as sectarian riots and homosexuality. Mr. Sheikh and Mr. Khakhar will be on hand at the opening of their joint show at the Walsh Gallery Friday, April 12. The artists will also participate in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Visiting Artists Program’s Stylistic Hybrids II: Contemporary Indian Painting Lectures Series. Lectures take place on April 16 (Sheikh) and April 18 (Khakhar).

Julie Walsh, director of Walsh Gallery, said, “I am thrilled to bring the work of these two outstanding artists to Chicago. This is the first time their work has been made available to Chicagoans and we are especially fortunate that they will be present at the opening reception.”

Mr. Sheikh (b. 1937) and Mr. Khakhar (b. 1934) are two of the most prominent members of the first generation of Indian artists to reach maturity after independence. Building on work by Bombay School pioneers like K. G. Subramanyan and M. F. Husain, Mr. Sheikh and Mr. Khakhar and their contemporaries at the Baroda School offered a challenge and an alternative to Bengal School artists. Bengal School artists sought to modernize Indian painting by reinventing traditional Indian styles of painting in ways that were compatible with ideas of “Asian Art.” Members of the Baroda School felt that all that was required to produce Indian art was to be Indian, and to record what was happening around them. This led Mr. Sheikh and Mr. Khakhar to frank and unromantic depictions of urban life, and eventually to Mr. Khakhar’s occasionally explicit images of homosexual life in India. Mr. Khakhar and Mr. Sheikh incorporate widely diverse influences into their work, including Indian miniatures, Mughal painting, popular and court paintings, cheap devotional images and paintings from the Italian Renaissance. They arrived finally at the intimate narrative style for which they are now known.

Mr. Sheikh and Mr. Khakhar’s works have been shown at The Hirshhorn Museum, Washington DC; the Tate Gallery, London; and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. Public collections include: the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the British Museum, London; and The National Galleries of Modern Art in Sydney and New Delhi. Mr. Khakhar’s work will travel from Walsh Gallery to the National Museum of Art (Rene-Sophia) in Madrid for a retrospective exhibition beginning in early June.

Mr. Sheikh and Mr. Khakhar will be present at Walsh Galley for the opening reception of their joint show April 12 from 7:00–10:00 PM. The artists, along with cultural theorist and writer Geeta Kapur, will also discuss contemporary Indian narrative painting at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago April 16–18 at 6:00 PM.