Bhupen Khakhar was born in 1934 at Gulalwadi in Mumbai.
In 1949 - 1962 Bhupen matriculated and later received his degree of a chartered accountant from the University of Mumbai. In 1952 Bhupen received his diploma where he attended evening art classes at Grant Road, Mumbai. In 1954 he continued to develop interest in the arts and started visiting art exhibitions and libraries in Mumbai. In 1958 he met Gulammohammed Sheikh who introduced him to the recently founded (1950) Faculty of Fine Arts, Baroda. In 1960-1961 he joined evening classes at Sir J.J. School of Art, Mumbai and later he joined the printmaking class of Vasant Parab (his first teacher).
In 1964 - 1968 Bhupen’s family strongly opposed his decision to become an artist. He moved back to Baroda and took up a part time accounting job at an engineering firm. His passion for art only grew deeper. He started creating collages using popular oleographic images of deities, etc.
Bhupen had several solos:
In 1965 he had his first one person exhibition at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai. In 1970 - 1975 he met Shankarbhai Patel who became a central figure of Bhupenbhai’s life. Bhupen was represented in Art Now, India; Commonwealth Arts Festival at Royal Festival Hall, London and Laing Art Gallery in New Castle, U.K. In 1966 he painted people in Dharamshala. From collages he had now entered his neo – miniaturist phase. He had a solo exhibition at Kunika Chemould Art Centre, New Delhi. In 1970 he exhibited solo at Kunika Chemould Art Centre, New Delhi. In 1972 he had a solo at Galley Chemould, Mumbai. In 1983 he had a solo at Knoedler Gallery, London; Contemporary Art Gallery, Ahmedabad and Urja Art Gallery, Baroda. In 1986 he had a one person exhibition at Centre Georges Pompidou, Musee National d’ Art Moderne and Galleries Contemporaries in Paris and at Galerie Watari in Tokyo. In 1985 he had a solo exhibition at Kanoria Centre for Art and Hutheesing Visual Arts Centrein Ahmedabad. In 1991 he had a solo exhibition of acrylic on paper at Gallery Chemould, Mumbai. In 1992 He had a solo exhibition at Galarie School, Amsterdam. In 1993 he had a solo at Gallery Ka-Eins in Frankfurt, Germany. In 1993 he showcased 'The spirit of India' at Gallerie Nouvelles Images in Den Haag, South Holland. In 1994 he had one person show at Gallery Chemould, Mumbai. In 1995 he had a solo exhibition K. Jariwala Gallery, London. In 1997 he had a solo exhibition of ceramics and watercolours at Vadehra Art Gallery in New Delhi.
Bhupen participated in many group exhibitions:
In 1967 he participated in Seven Painters at Gallery One, London. In 1968 he received an Honourable Mention at 1st Triennale, New Delhi. He participated in Art Scene Today at Sanskar Kendra, Ahmedabad. He had a joint exhibition with Helen Marshall and Philip Martin at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai. In 1969 he participated in Sao Paulo Biennale, Brazil; Art Today I and II at Kunika Chemould Art Centre, New Delhi and Indian Painters ’69 at Birla Academy of Art & Culture, Calcutta. He participated in Smithsonian Workshop, New Delhi. In 1971 - 1972 he painted several paintings such as Janata Watch Repairing, Bank Manager, etc. He participated in IInd Triennale, India, New Delhi. He participated in a group exhibition at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai. In 1982 he participated in Contemporary Indian Art, Festival of India Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, London. He was represented in Contemporary Indian Art (Collection of NGMA) at Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC, USA. In 1984 he participated in Ten Artists at Gallery 7, Mumbai. In 1984 he was represented in Fifteenth International Art Exhibition in Tokyo Biennale in Japan. He participated in East –West Encounter, exhibition and symposium at Jehangir Art Gallery, Max Muller Bhavan and NCPA in Mumbai. He participated in Collector’s Choice at Gallery Chemould, Mumbai. He took part in Painter’s Camp, IPCL in Baroda. He was represented in India: Contemporary Art, World Trade Centre in Amsterdam. He was represented in the Richness of the Spiral Selection from Contemporary Figurative Indian Art at Kuwait Museum and Egyptian Academy in Rome.
In 1989, he was invited by Vivan Sundaram to work with Nalini Malani and himself on an eighteen foot mural on glass in Mumbai. A play Mojila – Manilal (Written and designed by Bhupen) was performed in Mumbai, Baroda and Ahmedabad. He was represented in Open Mind at Museum Van Hedendaagse Kunst in Ghent. He took part in Artists Alert an exhibition and auction of works (for Sahmat) at Rabindra Bharati in New Delhi. He participated in Timeless Art exhibition at Victoria Terminus in Mumbai auction by Sotheby’s. He executed fire wood-cuts and three Linocuts (a limited edition) of two stories by Sulman Rushdiie, privately published in London. In 1990 he was represented in Ambassador’s Choice, Contemporary Indian Art from the collection of H.E. Mrs. E.M. School of the Netherlands at NGMA, New Delhi. Represented in Documents a IX, Kassel, Germany. He was represented in Pioneers to the New Generation, an exhibition of Indian Contemporary Art, Calcutta. He was showcased in Journey within Landscapes at Jehangir Art Gallery in Mumbai. He was represented in ‘India Songs : Multiple Streams in Contemporary Indian Art’ at Art Gallery in New South Wales, Sydney and in ‘A Critical Difference : Contemporary Art from India’ Aberystwyth Arts Centre Touring Exhibition, U.K. He had a joint exhibition at Galerie School Foundation for Indian Art in Amsterdam. In 1995 he was represented in 100 years from the NGMA collection at NGMA, New Delhi. In 1995 - 1996 he was represented in The Other Self group, workshop and exhibition of Indian and Dutch artists at NGMA in New Delhi and Stedelijk Museum Bureau in Amsterdam. In 1996 he was represented in Chamatkar at CIMA, Calcutta. He was represented in Water colours: A broader spectrum III at Gallery Chemould, Mumbai. In 1997, he was represented in ‘Contemporary Art in Asia: Traditions/Tensions’ at Asia Society in New York. He participated in ‘Indian Contemporary Art post Independence’ at NGMA in New Delhi. He took part in Colours of Independence at NGMA in New Delhi and he participated in Tryst with Destiny at the Singapore Art Museum. In 1998 he participated in the Mardi Gras Festival with an exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. He exhibited at Japan Foundation in Tokyo. In 2001, 2002 and 2003 he took part in group shows in London, Austria, Berlin and Liverpool.
He was conferred the Padma Shri by the Government of India. He received Asian Cultural Starr Fellowship in New York, USA. In 1987 he was represented in Coups de Coeur, Hall Sud, Geneva. In 1988 he was represented in Gujarati Indian Artists at Leicestershire Museum and Art Gallery, U.K. He was showcased in Indian Painters: Gallery Chemould’s 25 Years at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai.
Bhupen passed away in 2003 in Baroda.
He had several posthumous exhibitions in India and overseas:
In 2006 - 2007 he was exhibited in London and at Kunst Museum Bern, Switzerland. In 2007 - 2008 he was showcased in Milan and Italy. In 2008 he was showcased at Philadelphia Museum of Art in USA. In 2008 he was exhibited in New Delhi and in Amman, Jordan. In 2008, 2009 and 2010 Bhupen was exhibited in New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Amravati, Nagpur, Aurangabad, Solapur, Kolhapur, Nasik, Spain, Chicago, Connecticut and at Aicon Gallery, London; Grosvenor Gallery, London and in Belgium. In 2011, 2012 and 2013 he was showcased in New Delhi, London, Mumbai, Singapore and New York. In 2014, 2015 and 2016 he was exhibited in Vadodara; National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi and Tate Modern in London. In 2015 he was showcased in ‘Legends of Baroda’, a two person exhibit with K.G. Subramaniam at Gallery 7, Mumbai. In 2016 he was represented in ‘You can’t please all’ at Tate Modern, UK.