Hema Upadhyay - profile, next to Dream a Wish - Wish a Dream installation

Hema Upadhyay /   Hema Hirani

India 1972 - 2015

Installation, Photography, Painting

Hema Upadhyay
Hema Hirani
December 14, 2015

Hema Upadhyay, born Hema Hirani, was an Indian artist, known for her intricate, often political mixed-media compositions and sculptural installations. In her oeuvre which is focused mainly on displacement, personal identity and nostalgia, Upadhyay privileges her own impressions of the urban landscape.

Hema Upadhyay’s Sculptural Installations

Hema Upadhyay - Where the bees suck, there suck I, 2009
Hema Upadhyay – Where the bees suck, there suck I, 2009

Born in Baroda in 1972, Hema Upadhyay received her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in painting and printmaking from the Fine Arts Faculty of the Sayajirao University. While studying, she met and married painter Chintan Upadhyay. After completing her education in 1998, the artist and her husband moved to Mumbai. The two of them were moving from one flat to another before finally settling in Juhu. City tabloids highly publicized their separation in 2010 and later their divorce proceedings.

Princesses’ rusted belt, 2011

Hema Upadhyay - Princesses rusted belt, 2011
Hema Upadhyay – Princesses rusted belt, 2011

In many of her works, Hema repeatedly used the landscape of Mumbai and patterned surfaces – such as elements from Indian spiritual iconography and traditional textile design, to reference the repercussions and socio-economic inequalities and issues such as migrations, dislocation and multi-cultural aspects that emerge as a hidden consequence of the relentless tide of urban development in the metropolis of Mumbai. Behind its glamorous projections, Upadhyay strived to show the real face of Mumbai and the reality of daily life for millions of poverty-stricken residents.

Mixed Media on Paper

Left Hema Upadhyay - Fish in a dead landscape #1, 2014, Right Hema Upadhyay - Fish in a dead landscape #2, 2014 - Mixed media on paper
Left: Hema Upadhyay – Fish in a dead landscape #1, 2014 / Right: Hema Upadhyay – Fish in a dead landscape #2, 2014

Upadhyay’s installation Dream a Wish, Wish a Dream (seen above in the featured image) was constructed as a meticulous microcosm of Dharavi, the largest slum in Bombay and all of Asia. Further developing earlier themes of space, poverty and urbanity, Hema assembled and painted each element of the reconstruction using plastics and hardware materials, with recycled car scraps and aluminum sheets as a ground.

As one of the uprising members belonging to the new generation of Indian contemporary artists, Upadhyay was the recipient of a National Scholarship from the Ministry of Human Resources. In addition, she was awarded several times, such as honors from the Gujarat Lalit Kala Academy and the national Lalit Kala Academy for her work in the 10th International Triennial, hosted in New Delhi.

Upadhyay has had major solo exhibitions in the United Kingdom, China, Australia and India.

A day after they were reported missing, Hema Upadhyay and her lawyer Harish Bhambhani were found dead near a cemetery in Kandivali in the Mumbai’s western suburbs on December 13, 2015.

Featured image – Hema Upadhyay next to her Dream a Wish, Wish a Dream installation
All images copyright © the artist

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2015[en] counters 2015 - Spaces in TransitionStudioX, Mumbai, IndiaGroup
2015Excavation – EruptionVadehra art gallery, New Delhi IndiaGroup
2015In Epic - In which the smallest gesture becomes epicBackyard civilization galleryGroup
2015Biennale and Stiftelsen 3,14Stiftelsen 3,14, Bergen, NorwayGroup
2015My Memory, Your HistoryThe Birla Academy of Arts, Kolkata IndiaGroup
2014-2015Silence and its ReflectionWhorled Explorations, Kochi-Muziris BiennaleGroup
2014-2015The Eye and The Mind: New Interventions in Indian ArtPresented by National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) DelhiGroup
2014-2015Princesses rusted beltMuseo Civico di Storia Naturale, Verona ItalyGroup
2014-2015Deconstructed InningsTenarts in collaboration with National Gallery of Modern Art, MumbaiGroup
2014Fish in a dead LandscapeChemould Prescott Road, Mumbai IndiaSolo
2014Le Mur (the wall)La Maison Rouge, Paris, FranceGroup
2014Acrobats and their ScenesSt Moritz Art MastersGroup
2014Paper Pushers: Methods & MaterialsSingapore Tyler Print Institute, SingaporeGroup
2014[en]counters – is there love in the air?Art Oxygen, MumbaiGroup
2014Aesthetic Bind: Floating worldGallery Chemould Prescott Road, MumbaiGroup
2013ModerniznationCAC Contemporary Arts Center, CincinnatiSolo
2013Mute MigrationArt gallery of New south Wales, Sydney, AustraliaGroup
2013Beyond the Self: Contemporary Self Portraiture from AsiaThe National Portrait Gallery CanberraGroup
2013The - Indian HighwayThe Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing ChinaGroup
2013Imago MundiLuciano Bentton collection, Querini Stampalia Foundation, VeniceGroup
2013Atomic loveDinard, palais des arts, Dinard FranceGroup
2013Rosapiero, rosa tiepolo, rosa spalletti, rosa….studio la citta, Verona, ItalyGroup
2013Peak Shift EffectVadehra Art Gallery, New DelhiGroup
2013The SKODA Prize ShowNational Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), Ministry of Culture, Government of IndiaGroup
2013Simple Life, We are OursKhoj Studios, Khirkee, New DelhiGroup
2013Maum’ Haein Art ProjectHaeinsa Temple, Seongbo Museuem, SorgilGroup
2012Extra OrdinaryFaculty of Fine Arts Baroda & Vadehra Art Gallery, New DelhiSolo
2012DensitySchauraum-b, BaselSolo
2012A Further Global EncounterGrosvenor Vadehra, LondonGroup
2012The Indian HighwayHans Ulrich Obrist and Gunnar B. Kvaran in Collaboration with the Serpentine Gallery, LondonGroup
2012Par NatureCentquatre, ParisGroup
2012Beyond the selfThe Anne and Gordon Samstag Museum of Art AdelaideGroup
2012Spheres 4gallery Continua, le Moulin, FranceGroup
2012Art for HumanityCoomaraswamy Hall, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, MumbaiGroup
2012Cinema CityMajlis, National Gallery of Modern Art, MumbaiGroup
2012DensitySchauraum-b, Basel, SwitzerlandGroup
2012Beyond the self - Contemporary self-portraiture from AsiaNational Portrait Gallery, Canberra, AustraliaGroup
2011The Princesses' Rusted BeltStudio la Città, VeronaSolo
2011ModerniznationEspace Topographie, ParisSolo
2011SAMTIDIGT, at the same timeHelsinki City Art Museum, HelsinkiGroup
2011Indian Highway IVLyon Museum of Contemporary Art, FranceGroup
2011Regards Croisés: A Selection of Asian Contemporary ArtArt Plural Gallery, SingaporeGroup
2011Where the Bees Suck, There Suck ISchauraum-b, Basel, SwitzerlandGroup
2011A Material DifferenceParadox gallery, SingaporeGroup
2011Spheres 4Galleria Continua, Le MoulinGroup
2011Beyond the self – Contemporary self-portraiture from AsiaNational Portrait Gallery, CanberraGroup
2011Paris-Delhi-BombaiCentre Pompidou, ParisGroup
2011Indian HighwayMAXXI, RomaGroup
2011Maravee FàbricaCastello di Susans di Majano, MajanoGroup
2011Contemporary Art from IndiaHelsinki Art Museum – The Tennis Palace, HelsinkiGroup
2010Where the Bees Suck, There Suck IStudio la Città, VeronaSolo
2010In Transition: New Art from IndiaRichmond Art Gallery, Richmond, BC, CanadaGroup
2010Eye of India: A Selection of Contemporary Indian ArtistsBartha & Senarclens Partners, SingaporeGroup
2010All Editions: A STPI Survey ShowSingapore Tyler Print Institute (STPI), SingaporeGroup
2010Finding India: Art for the New centuryMuseum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), TaipeiGroup
2010Roots, 25th Anniversary Exhibition of Sakshi Art GalleryMumbai at The Park, Chennai, IndiaGroup
2010West HeavensShanghaiGroup
2010At the same timeKulturhuset, StockholmGroup
2010Midnight’s ChildrenStudio la Città, VeronaGroup
2010Arts and CitiesAichi Triennial 2010, NagoyaGroup
2010Indian HighwayHerning Museum Of Contemporary Art, Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Gunnar B. Kvaran, Stinna Toft, OsloGroup
2010Midnight’s ChildrenStudio la Città, VeronaGroup
2010The Empire Strikes Back: Indian Art TodayThe Saatchi Gallery, LondonGroup
2010HomeLessHomeMuseum on the Seam, JerusalemGroup
2009Where the Bees Suck, There Suck IMACRO, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea di Roma, RomaSolo
2009Indian HighwayAstrup Fernley Museum, Oslo, NorwayGroup
2009Contemporary Indian Art: Open Your Third EyeNational Museum of Contemporary Art, SeoulGroup
2009Conflicting Tales: Subjectivity (Quadrilogy, Part 1)Burger Collection, BerlinGroup
2009Chalo India: A New Era of Indian ArtEssl Museum, Klosterneuburg, AustriaGroup
2009Chalo India: A New Era of Indian ArtThe National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul, KoreaGroup
2009India2: Mumbai – Under the surfaceGalerie Krinzinger, ViennaGroup
2009The Power of OrnamentationOrangery Lower Belvedere, ViennaGroup
2008Yours SincerelyNature Morte, New DelhiSolo
2008Universe revolves onSingapore Tyler Print Institute, SingaporeSolo
2008Acrobats and their ScenesBodhi art gallery, SingaporeSolo
2008Fire WalkersContemporary art from India and South Asia, Stux Gallery, New York, USAGroup
2008India ModernaIVAM, ValenciaGroup
2008The Audience and the Eavesdropper – New Art from Indian and PakistanPhillips de Purry, LondonGroup
2008Chalo India – The New Era of Indian ArtMori Art Museum, TokyoGroup
2008Six degrees of separation: chaos, congruence and collaboration in South AsiaKhoj International Artist association, Anant art centre, DelhiGroup
2008Everywhere is war & rumours of warBodhi art gallery, MumbaiGroup
2008Eurasia – Geographic Cross-overs in ArtMaRT Rovereto (TN)Group
2008Indian FocusEspace Claude Berri, ParisGroup
2008Indi GeniusSakshi Gallery and Soka Contemporary Art Centre, TaipeiGroup
2008Fire WalkersStux Gallery, New York, USAGroup
2008AF FAIRGallery 1 x 1,DubaiGroup
2008India Crossingstudio la Città, VeronaGroup
2008New NarrativeThe Zimmerli Art Museum, New JerseyGroup
2007Glass HouseGrosvenor Vadehra, London, UKSolo
2007Urban MannersHanger Bicocca, MilanoGroup
2007India: New Installations Part IIMattress Factory, PittsburghGroup
2007New NarrativesChicago Cultural Centre, ChicagoGroup
2006Here and Now: Contemporary voices from IndiaGrosvenor Vadhera, LondonGroup
2006Bombay: Maximum CityTri postal, LilleGroup
2006Shadow LinesVadehra Art Gallery, New DelhiGroup
2006Long Happy Hours Thereby Happiness and Other StoriesThe Museum Gallery, MumbaiGroup
2006Parallel Realities – Asian Art Now3rd Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale, Blackburn Museum, UKGroup
2005Indian SummerEcole nationale Superieure des Beaux Arts, ParisGroup
2005Parallel Realities – Asian Art Now3rd Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale, FukuokaGroup
2005Present-FutureNational Gallery of Modern Art, BombayGroup
2005Indian Contemporary ArtChelsea college of Art, LondonGroup
2005Are we like this only?Vadhera art Gallery, New DelhiGroup
2004Made in China, collaboration with Chintan UpadhyayViart Gallery, New DelhiSolo
2004UnderneathGallery Chemould, BombaySolo
2004Have we met?Japan Foundation, TokyoGroup
2004Separate IdentitiesIndia Habitat Centre, New DelhiGroup
2004Concepts and IdeasCima Art Gallery Pvt. Ltd., KolkattaGroup
2004Group ShowGallery 27, OsloGroup
2003Made in ChinaGallery Chemould, BombaySolo
2003Crossing Generations: Diverge, 40 years of Gallery ChemouldNGMA, BombayGroup
2003Portraits of a DecadeCima Gallery Kolkatta & Jehangir Art Gallery, MumbaiGroup
2003Loco-foco-mottoV.M. Gallery, KarachiGroup
2003ParthenogenesisIvan Dougherty Gallery, SydneyGroup
2003The Tree from the SeedHenie Onstad Kunssenter, OsloGroup
2002Brahma to Bapu (Icons & Symbols in Indian Art)Cima Gallery, Calcutta & India Habitat Centre, New DelhiGroup
2002Trans-figurationArt Inc, Visual Art Gallery, India Habitat Center, New DelhiGroup
2001The Nymph and the AdultInstitute of Modern Art, BrisbaneSolo
2001Sweet Sweat MemoriesGallery Chemould, BombaySolo
2001The Nymph and the AdultArt Space, SydneySolo
200110th International Triennale – IndiaRabindra Bhavan, Lalit Kala Akademi, New DelhiGroup
2001Exchanging TerritoriesShridharni Art Gallery, New DelhiGroup
200110th International Triennale – IndiaNGMA, BombayGroup
2000Memos for the New Millennium from Artists of a Moulting WorldBirla Academy of Art & Culture, BombayGroup
2000Sic. An Audiovisual InstallationFine Art Company, BombayGroup
2000Mumbai MetaphorTao Art Gallery, BombayGroup
2000Secret Life of ObjectsLakeeren Art Gallery, BombayGroup
1998Group ShowPrithvi Art Gallery, BombayGroup
19974th International Print BiennialBhopalGroup