Social Realities and the Human Condition: Narrative Figuration
As we have studied, Bhupen Khakhar’s (1934–2003) work fits into the broader narrative figuration movement in the 1970s, in which figures are placed in real and imagined contexts and spaces to tell a story. The movement in Baroda was led by artists such as Khakhar, Gulammohammed Sheikh (b. 1937) and Vivan Sundaram (1943–2023). As a result of Baroda’s proximity to Bombay (now Mumbai) where artists often exhibited their works in galleries and exhibition spaces, some Bombay-based artists — in spite of their distinct approaches and communities — simultaneously developed the style of narrative figuration.
In the carousel below, we will look at the practices of Gieve Patel (b. 1940) and Sudhir Patwardhan (b. 1949), who used this style to address themes of local politics, social realities and the human condition, focusing primarily on the urban landscape of the city. Like Khakhar, Patel and Patwardhan are self-taught artists. For most of their career, they both worked as practising doctors in Bombay, and their familiarity with the human body is evident in their treatment of it in their work. Click below to get started.
Politics of the Everyday: Sudhir Patwardhan
Looking closely at the works by artists Gieve Patel and Sudhir Patwardhan, this Topic engages with the language of narrative figuration that became popular in the 1970s. Take a look at the following links to learn more about them.