Bhupen Khakhar, Barber’s Shop, 1973, oil on canvas, 40 3/4 × 40 3/4". © Estate of Bhupen Khakhar/Kanwaldeep and Devinder Sahney.


“Bhupen Khakhar: You Can’t Please All”

Tate Modern
June 1–November 6, 2016

Curated by Chris Dercon with Nada Raza

In the 1981 self-portrait from which Bhupen Khakhar’s retrospective takes its title, we see the artist standing nude at a balcony and gazing out over a town in which various scenes from an Aesop fable are taking place. Shortly after its execution, the artist acknowledged that the work represented his coming out as gay. At this show, more than seventy of Khakhar’s paintings, ceramics, and works on paper will present honest appraisals of self and society: Portraits of down-at-heel tradesmen from the ’70s will jostle with the artist’s uncompromising representations of sexuality in a time and place where it was deemed taboo, while late self-portraits will document Khakhar’s battle with cancer, which ended with his death in 2003. You can’t please all, but Tate Modern’s tribute—whose catalogue will feature an essay by veteran art historian Geeta Kapur—will show how this artist made a virtue of not even trying. Travels to the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle, Berlin, Nov. 18–Mar. 5, 2017.