Shri Khakhar Prasanna

Atul Dodiya
2008

Atul Dodiya’s ‘Shri Khakhar Prasanna’ demonstrates that there are as many varieties of homage as there as rasas in Sanskrit aesthetics. In this tender yet playful performance, Atul shows that a departed friend can be memorialised, not only through elegiac reverence, but also through a series of parodies and exaggerations, paradoxes and private jokes, fantasies and extravagances. This suite of works, rendered as a tribute to Bhupen Khakhar (1943–2003), takes the form of a comic mausoleum, a Rousseau-like jungle of associations, quotations and symbolisms that reflect’s Bhupen’s own aesthetic of overflow, of ludic excess and abundant wackiness. The title of the exhibition, ‘Shri Khakhar Prasanna’, is veined with the poker-faced wit cherished by Bhupen and Atul. Bhupen has been deified; he has, in Robert Graves’ vivid phrase, undergone the ‘pumkinification’ of immortality. For he is named in the place occupied in a Hindu invocation by the kuladevata, the revered and beloved family deity whose grace is sought on an auspicious occasion, whether wedding, birth or festivity. Thus, for instance, ‘Shri Mangesha Prasanna, ‘Shri Ganesh Prasanna’, ‘Shri Shantadurga Prasanna’, or ‘Shri Mahalakshmi Prasanna’. In our context, the formula translates as: ‘May it please Lord Khakhar!'

-From THE COMIC MAUSOLEUM: Atul Dodiya’s ‘Shri Khakhar Prasanna’