The art community gathered on Monday to remember Hema Upadhyay one last time
The cool Monday evening offered no solace to the grieving friends and family of contemporary artist Hema Upadhyay, who had gathered at her residence Mittal Ocean View on Juhu Tara Road, which she once shared with her husband Chintan Upadhyay.
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Chintan Upadhyay and his father Vidyasagar break down before Hema’s lifeless body. Pics/Sayed Sameer Abedi
Most were in shock over her horrific murder on Friday, when she was killed along with lawyer Haresh Bhambani and cartons carrying their bodies dumped in a Kandivli nullah. Upadhyay, a graduate of MS university, Baroda, was well known for her seminal works, often carrying a whiff of the autobiographical.
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Hema’s brother, Manish Hirani, at Bhagwati Hospital, from where her body was taken for the last rites. Pic/Nimesh Dave
Her death brought together city artists, gallerists, former classmates and art faculty at her residence. Kochi Biennale director Bose Krishnamachari, artist and close friend Reena Kallat, gallerists Mortimer Chatterjee and Tara Lal, artists Meera Devidayal, Anjana Mehra, TV Santhosh and Shakuntala Kulkarni were among those present.
Hema’s death brought together city artists, gallerists, former classmates and art faculty at her Juhu Tara Road residence
Kallat and Kulkarni are represented by gallery Chemould Prescott Road, as was Upadhyay. As the 42-year-old’s family conducted the last rites, grief wrought heavy on their faces. Those present couldn’t help remark how Upadhyay had been snatched away in the spring of a promising career.
Kochi Biennale director Bose Krishnamachari
They remembered her for the everyday good — adopting strays — to the more artistic, such as advice spared to younger talent. Friends comforted each other, each crying in turn, and Mansi Bhatt, a JJ college graduate and artist, said, “it is hard to believe what has happened. Hema used to share a lot of thoughts on my art with me and once even got me a cake when I had gone to her place to celebrate my birthday. So much affection even when we were still getting to know each other...”
Hema’s close friend, artist Reena Kallat
The funeral procession headed to the Santacruz crematorium where the artist’s estranged husband joined them. He had been in police interrogation the whole day, assisting the cops with information.
Gallerists Tara Lal and Mortimer Chatterjee
The mystery surrounding Upadhyay’s murder came up in snatches of conversation among the grieving art community, many of whom were puzzled by the bizarre circumstances surrounding her last hours. Once the pyre that held the artist’s mortal remains — her face, which police say was mutilated, shrouded — was ready to be lit, the crowd stood still. Mumbai’s art community was one talent less.