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Chintan Upadhyay

Indian Contemporary Artist
Born 1972, Rajasthan, India
Lives and works in Mumbai

Anew generation contemporary artist, Upadhyay is well versed with two divergent styles of art - traditional miniatures and abstract expressionism.His artworkoften involves animated and stylized babies as their subjects. An attempt to epitomise the cultural hybridism of present times is evident in his artworks. He uses flat tints of vivid colours as seen in traditional Indian art.



Masters of Fine Arts (Painting), Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Gujarat, India


Bachelor of Fine Arts (Painting), Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Gujarat, India


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UNDERSTANDING Chintan Upadhyay

Brightly decorated baby sculptures are central to Upadhyay's oeuvre

The artist found his voice when he made his first baby sculpture in fiberglass and got fixated on them. He uses the image of the baby or infant to represent innocence and to epitomize the natural. In his terms, both these states have become obsolete in our age of globalized values.

A series "Iconic Shrine" consisting of six sculptures and five large paintings represent a distinct progression in Upadhyay's views on cultural hybridism, a concept he explores thoroughly in his works. The baby, which is a recurring motif in his paintings, is featured in varying dimensions and mediums. The paintings are based on the epic of Samudra Manthan, an event from Hindu mythology. This tale itself talks about a time of great change, much like our present and possibly a future which the babies will inhabit. Perhaps is it this prospect that prompts their many emotive expressions.

Each sculpture of 150 cm is arranged in a circle with all the faces looking outward. These infant heads have miniature style paintings on them to represent history. The dramatic colours, to some extent are a prodigy for anticipated challenges in life.

Chintan Upadhyay, Head, Sculpture - fiberglass with hand painted exterior, 150 x 150 x 150 cm

Cultural hybridism - the implicit meaning in his art work

He describes the series 'New Indians' as hybrids -or a vision of modern India; a synthesis of traditional culture mixed with an increasingly cosmopolitan society. His work sharply deals with the complex condition of India in the throes of rapid economic and urban development, as well as high discrimination between the sexes, a country filled with contradiction and chaos.

By representing many of the pictures of male Indian babies, he comments on the preference for baby boys that is still present in modern India. His use of vibrant, playful colours such as reds and blues typically used in traditional Indian art but in flat tint form, making them soft and intense at the same time highlights the disturbing undercurrents present in his work.

Chintan Upadhyay, New Indians, 2007, fiberglass, wood, gold leaf and acrylic, 92.7 x 91 cm Installation View

He leaves his work unfinished to prove a point

He regularly leaves parts of his canvases unfinished, in order to indicate his interest in the present. He believes that an unfinished painting is suggestive of the possibility that the artist may return back to complete the work. This creates tension within the work, thereby seeking to instill a sense of movement and possibility.

Upadhyay uses the phallic metaphor to communicate the commodification of sexuality. Upadhyay created "eerie images", intended to "hammer an established aesthetics" into the audience. Effectively, his paintings are considered as "critiques of painterly, established norms."

Chintan Upadhyay, Prostitute, 2008, oil and acrylic on canvas, 72 x 72"

He resists developing a signature

His approach to art is that of a 'quick - change' artist. After four or five paintings, he usually switches to a new style.He states that "I don't want my paintings to be a signature, " explaining that when an artist develops a distinctive style, it is a form of self-parody or self-caricature that is more of an economic response to the world than an artistic one. He resists this kind of marketability.

Regarding his choice of mediums, he allows his subject matter to decide it. "I don't believe in politics of medium. I don't take up a medium just because the whole art world is following it. I keep myself open to understanding my work ," he comments.

Chintan Upadhyay, Chintu baba, 2010, oil and acrylic on canvas, 24 x 24”

Chintan talks about female infanticide through his artwork

Upadhyay is a well established artist known for the way he chooses and depicts his subjects. He talks about the issue of aborting female foeticide and abandoning infants through his much debated 'Tentua Dabaa Do' series. He used paintings, videos and installations as mediums in typifying this matter. The surface of canvas was worked on in numerous layers - indicating one of the methods employed in the female foeticide, and another layer of paint washed away by water - again a prominent form of killing depicted through his unconventional methods of painting.

Chintan Upadhyay, Before she was discovered 1, 2007, Oil on canvas