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Bhupen Khakhar was a chartered accountant when he joined evening classes on art appreciation at the J. J. School of Arts. His first paintings were executed in the late '50s.
Khakhar began by making collages of kitschy calendars and painting them over. Although he painted contemporary situations, around 1967 a strong influence of Indian miniatures began to show in his works. Later, in the early '70s he executed many paintings of tradesmen at work. This was a departure from the traditional subjects of contemporary Indian art. All his works have a strong narrative theme and his palette contains bright kitschy pinks and greens. The paintings of the '80s, for example, were illustrations of proverbs. In the early '90s he broke with the convention again, and made several controversial paintings with homosexual themes. One of these, Yayati, was never exhibited in India.
Rushdie's book, "The Moor's Last Sigh", contains a description of a painting recognisable as Khakhar's 1981 piece "You Can't Please All". In 1995 Khakhar was invited by the BBC to paint a portrait of Rushdie. This was aptly titled "Salman Rushdie: The Moor".