Exhibition Pays Tribute to Murdered Artist Hema Upadhyay

Upadhyay was brutally killed in Mumbai last December.

Hema Upadhyay creating her iconic installation. Photo: Studio la Città, Verona
Hema Upadhyay at the Centre Pompidou, Paris in 2011. Photo: PIERRE VERDY/AFP/Getty Images

Hema Upadhyay at the Centre Pompidou, Paris in 2011.
Photo: PIERRE VERDY/AFP/Getty Images.

The Italian gallery Studio La Città launched this past Saturday an exhibition dedicated to the memory of the murdered Indian artist Hema Upadhyay. The dead bodies of Upadhyay and her lawyer Haresh Bhambani were found in Mumbai in December 2015 and a police investigation is ongoing.

Titled “Tribute to Hema Upadhyay, Where the Bees Suck, There Suck I,” the exhibition presents one of Upadhyay’s most significant works: a large excavator hanging over a pile of tiny multi-colored shacks. The installation is accompanied by a series of photographs by Michele Alberto Sereni documenting Upadhyay’s creation of her most iconic piece.

Hema Upadhyay Where the Bees Suck, There Suck I (2008). Photo: Studio la Città, Verona

Hema Upadhyay Where the Bees Suck, There Suck I (2008).
Photo: Courtesy of Studio la Città, Verona.

“Upadhyay had so much talent,” Marco Meneguzzo, curator of the show at the Verona-based gallery, is quoted in the exhibition’s press release. “It is as if someone showed no hesitation about ruining and destroying, in addition to her individual existence, the human talent that this artist exemplified at the highest level,” he said of Upadhyay’s murder.

Focusing on breaking down western stereotypes about India, Upadhyay’s work seeks to communicate the reality of her native country to outsiders. As such it reflects critical issues including consumption, construction, and pollution while memorializing the emerging country’s vibrancy.

Hema Upadhyay creating her iconic installation. Photo: Studio la Città, Verona

Hema Upadhyay creating her iconic installation.
Photo: Courtesy of Studio la Città, Verona.

Where the Bees Suck, There Suck I is a moving image because it swiftly gets to the heart of the problem,” Meneguzzo said,”providing an infinity of stratified and coexistent meanings: overpopulation, urbanization, the political and economic perils that loom over the weakest, fear of the future, humanity’s fate.”

“This compositional reality and, above all, this ability to summarize a complex feeling in a simple and ‘popular’ form, were Upadhyay’s most distinctive traits, and they endure in all her works,” the curator explained.

Michele Alberto Sereni's photographs of the artist at work. Photo: Studio la Città, Verona

Michele Alberto Sereni’s photographs of the artist at work.
Photo: Courtesy of Studio la Città, Verona.

The exhibition is taking place ahead of “Megacities Asia,” a show that will open at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston on April 3 and will also feature works by the late artist. The exhibition focuses on art from Beijing, Shanghai, Mumbai, Delhi, and Seoul, all of them Asian cities with populations of over 10 million.

“Tribute to Hema Upadhyay, Where the Bees Suck, There Suck I” is on view from March 5 – May 7, 2016 at Studio la Città, Verona.


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