Jaipur, Dec 23: Controversial artist Chintan Upadhyay, 43, arrested in connection with the murder of his estranged and artist wife Hema Updhayay and her lawyer in Mumbai, would be brought to Jaipur soon.
Chintan had been in touch with Vidayadhar Rajbhar, the main accused in the case. His Jaipur connections and his talks with Vidyadhar would be further looked into by the Mumbai police.
Chintan had been questioned by the police earlier but was let off. Hema and Chintan were locked in a bitter divorce since 2010 and were fighting over a Rs 7.7 crore apartment in Juhu, Mumbai that they jointly owned.
A few days before the murder of Hema and her lawyer Harish Bhambhani, Vidyadhar, a fabrication artist is said to have met Chintan at his father’s house here in Nirman Nagar.
But Chintan’s father, Vidyasagar Upadhaya, a renowned visual artist himself, and who hails from Banswara district, is unaware of the purpose of the meet, according to other artists, who did not wish to be named. He stayed there for 10 minutes and went off refusing food offered. Chintan’s father taught for several years at Rajasthan School of Arts in Jaipur. He maintains that Chintan is not guilty and that police has wrong information about him.
The main accused Vidyadhar had come two years ago also and stayed at their Nirman Nagar residence for 15 days. He used to work at a statue making shop in Jaipur’s Walled City. Chintan is said to have told the police about Vidyadhar and his connections with him soon after Vidyadhar’s name surfaced in the investigations.
Vidyadhar also used to sometimes work as a model for Chintan and Hema and for other artists as well. Although married for 13 years, Hema came to Jaipur only once and that they were not on good terms, according to Chintan’s friends here.
His father Vidyasagar Upadhaya, is one of the main organisers of the annual Jaipur Art summit. Chintan, who was part of the last summit held in Nov this year, was in the news for putting up of the styrfoam and plastic cow installation, which enraged some right wing organisations and hurt the religious sentiments of some people and had to be pulled down. Although the art installation was by artist Siddhartha Kararwal, the police detained and questioned Chintan for the incident.
Most artists, who have interacted with Chintan, did not want to be named. They said he had a knack for getting into controversies and being in the news, and that some of it was deliberate to hog the limelight.
Last year’s Jaipur Art summit, which had the design of Lord Ganesha on a toilet seat sparked a row. This year the hanging and a dying cow installation floating in the air from the art hub Jawahar Kala Kendra, and which was to depict the death of cows from feeding on plastics, was protested against by Hindu groups.
But according to one of his artist friend Chintan is very gentle and bold in his initiatives. And he has always defended his bold takes. He was one of the first to come out and accept that artists are now using assistants. Sometimes a lettering can be done by an assistant. There were many other big artists who were doing it but did not say it publicly.”
About his attempts to hog limelight, the artist, who did not want to be named said : “Chintan gave an advertisement in a national daily before his exhibition opened. He dressed up as pregnant woman in a house dress for the Pet Shop exhibition posters. But that was only to create awareness about the exhibition. That is his way to get in the common people to view art works. A unique way to promote art mass scale. He doesn’t believe in art being very individualistic or doing just one piece. He believes in mass production. He has a different way of thinking and that is definitely not to be in the news.”
Having done his schooling in Jaipur, he passed out from Faculty of Fine Arts, Baroda in 1997, where he met his now murdered wife Hema.
But Jaipur’s art fraternity refrained from speaking about this “idiosyncratic” artist. He is mostly known for his glitzy, larger-than-life modified babies that come in all shapes and sizes, with multiple arms, heads and legs.
His first solo show in 1998 called ‘This Has Been Done Before was held in Delhi’ but it was his solo installation Commemorative Stamps in 2002 that shot him into the limelight. He painted the walls of the gallery with decorative motifs drawn from rural Rajasthan. His links with Rajasthan gets highlighted in his works. Concerned with female infanticide, which is still rampant in Rajasthan, he did canvas paintings (acrylic and pastels) and two installations, Tetuaa Dabaa Do in Jaipur some years back. He often uses Rajasthan’s miniature paintings in his works.