Bobby Friction: The sound of Bhupen Khakhar

DJ and broadcaster Bobby Friction shares his playlist inspired by the Bhupen Khakhar: You Can’t Please All exhibition 

Profile image of Bobby Friction

Profile image of Bobby Friction 

Black and white photograph of artist from above as he sits on the floor and draws a palm tree onto a board
Man is painted in centre of canvas wearing a white shirt and holding a bouquet of flowers. His expression is sombre.

Bhupen Khakhar
Man with a Bouquet of Plastic Flowers 1976 
National Gallery of Modern Art, (New Delhi, India)

Bhupen Khakhar, The Weatherman 1979

Bhupen Khakhar, The Weatherman 1979, oil on canvas, 101.6 x 101.6 cm
© Estate of Bhupen Khakhar, courtesy Chemould Prescott Road Archives, Bombay

Bhupen Khakhar Tiger and Stag 1970 © Estate of Bhupen Khakhar

Bhupen Khakhar Tiger and Stag 1970 Estate of Bhupen Khakhar/ National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), New Delhi, © Estate of Bhupen Khakhar

Image of  Bhupen Khakhar' s Night 1996

 Bhupen Khakhar Night 1996 Collection Kiran Nadar Museum of Art 

Bhupen Khakhar, Untitled (Portrait of Pandoo) 1977

Bhupen Khakhar, Untitled (Portrait of Pandoo) 1977, oil on canvas, 106 x 83.8 cm
© Estate of Bhupen Khakhar, photo © Christie’s Images/Bridgeman Images

Full playlist

 

1. Karsh Kale – Thin Line Of Blue

For me there was a real sense of internal travel that I experienced when walking around the Bhupen Khakhar: You Can’t Please All exhibition. I wanted to start this playlist with a sweeping and swirling introduction to that internal travel and Thin Line of Blue is indeed a mini-odyssey.

2. Midival Punditz – Nadia

Bhupen Khakhar's colours, empathetic images and his relationship with his mother are the reason I chose this current, Indian electronic classic. The Midival Punditz, for all their modernity and outward looking artistry, will always use India as a muse and I see that within Bhupen Khakhar's work too.

3. Bandish Projekt feat. Last Mango In Paris – Kali Yatra

There's a brooding menace in this song that's being held back by the structured formality of Indian Classical music. I feel a real link between this conflict and Bhupen Khakhar's body of work.

4. Amit Chaudhuri – Saraswati

This is perfect soundtrack music for a gallery and there's also a real melancholy in Amit Chaudhuri's voice that I think suits the exhibition.

5. Tame Impala – Canyons Sunrise Reprise

My love for psychedelia knows no bounds. When first looking at Bhupen Khakhar's work my instant reaction was to see him as an Indian Pop artist. I wanted to reflect the Western era, the art movement and the psychedelia that obviously had some sort of effect on him. This track does that brilliantly.

6. Aisha Devi – Initiation to an Illusion

Lots of the art in the exhibition reminds me of India at night and this track illustrates that beautifully. Maybe it's the fact that I always find it difficult to sleep whenever I'm in India for the first couple of nights and find myself drifting. Maybe my insomnia married Khakhar's art and this track together.

7. Ian Brown – Solarized

I realised, after my initial thoughts about the exhibition, that I had a constant feeling of sensuality running through me whilst viewing Bhupen Khakhar's work. That sensuality was definitely primal. With that in mind, I added this track as it is male sensuality incarnated.

8. M.I.A. – Ali r u ok?

Bhupen Khakhar never lived to see the India or indeed the UK of 2016. So much of what he painted and the themes he explored are mainstream now. I wanted to offer him a slice of 2016, from a fellow artist that I think he might have related to. Can you imagine a Khakhar and M.I.A. fantasy collaboration?

9. Zakir Hussain – Shwas-Uchhashwas/The Beginning

For me, this is simply the greatest recorded music to have ever come out of India. Not only is it the very earth and space of India in musical form, it's also the first sonic architecture that gave me an out of body experience. 

10. Kailash Kher, Paresh Kamath, Naresh Kamath – Teri Deewani

I realised this playlist needed an anthem, a folk moment, an ode to the everyday India that Bhupen Khakhar celebrated. This song is moving, full of greatness and the anthem I was looking for.

11. Beck – Nobody's Fault But My Own

Self-analysis is what many artists specialise in and unavoidable to me when within a gallery. This tune is my soundtrack to introspection and a worthy addition to this playlist. 

12. Joi – We Need Your Vote

The original masters of the Asian Underground arts and music movement from the UK wrote this as a soundtrack for Bangladesh and its struggles. This tune is here to mark the 1971 war in Bangladesh, in the same way that Bhupen Khakhar marked the war with his painting.

13. Talvin Singh, Niladri Kumar – Ananta

I find it impossible to hear this tune without tears welling up within me. Its emotional impact and outreach is beyond the technology I listen to it with. It's hundreds of years of beauty and melancholy distilled into four minutes of recorded audio. I can't think of anything better than walking around the Bhupen Khakhar exhibition with this on my headphones.

14. Mithoon, Shilpa Rao and Kshitu – Javeda Zindagi-tose Naina Lage

Taken from the Indian movie Anwar, this tune is on the playlist to keep its feet on Indian terra firma. A moving song about love and loss dedicated to Bhupen Khakhar, who I believe was possibly an out of control empath. 

15. Tom Furse – Cloud Mountain

This song is a magical, floating, surreal trip into our childhoods with bold palettes and brushes that hint at a reality waiting for us around the corner. It's an intuitive response to the work in the gallery.

16. Karsh Kale – Man On Fire

This amazing composition is what I assume death sounds like. The soundtrack as you leave this world and journey onto the next phase. Bhupen Khakhar wasn't afraid of death in his work and this is, if I can be so bold, how I hear him leaving us when his time on earth was over.

Enjoy some of our other playlists.

Bhupen Khakhar: You Can’t Please All is on at Tate Modern, 1 June – 6 November 2016.

See also