Remembering Hema Hirani Upadhyay

Remembering Hema Hirani Upadhyay

My first experience of Hema was when she was a student at Faculty of Fine Arts Baroda. In an ‘interactive session’ – a part of the curriculum of the Department of Art History and Aesthetics- she talked about her work explaining to everyone, what inspired her and what made her look at things in a particular way. I was pleasantly surprised to see how different her focus of observation was.  She talked about paintings of artificial legs and the feelings of people who need them. The impression I was left with was ‘a beautiful and pleasant girl with an uncommon and sensitive angle of observation’.

My second experience was after a gap of many years in January 2013, at India Art Summit in New Delhi. The work here was titled ‘Mute Migrations’. This was another surprise for me. Many artists work with a urband landscapes exploring different angles and perspective of it, but this vision of Hema was stunning. A scaled model of slum dwellings and those roofs cluttered together, as seen from the sky. Standing in front of that work transports you into the space that it is inspired from and you begin to feel yourself as a part of its fast paced muddled activities.

Hema had contributed much to the art world, often jolting people out of their humdrum lives and showing them something new in a different and beautiful way.  The world ended up experiencing another jolt in the way Hema Hirani Upadhyay left the world , bringing a close her creative energies. This is an unfortunate shock.

M.Balamani, Ph.D

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