Description: Salman Rushdie (b.1947)
Salman Rushdie: The Moor
by Bhupen Khakhar (b. 1934)
oil on linen,
signed in Gujarati and dated 25 July 1995
Novelist and the author, among other works of Midnight's Children (1981) and The Satanic Verses (1988), a work which provoked a fatwah from Islamic fundamentalists.
The portrait was commissioned by the BBC in connection with a film about Salman Rushdie and relates closely to Rushdie's novel, The Moor's Last Sigh (1995), a dynastic saga of the Da Gama-Zogoiby family of Cochin spice traders. In the portrait Rushdie himself appears in the guise of the eponymous hero of the book, Moraes Zogoiby, nicknamed 'Moor'. His club-like right hand is deformed. In the bottom left-hand corner of the portrait the Moor's artist mother Aurora paints his portrait, brushes bristling out of her hair. On the right is the figure of his great uncle Aires da Gama with Jawaharlal, his stuffed bulldog on wheels. The landscape on the right is Kerala, on the left is Bombay with Aurora's crenellated house on Malabar Hill; at the top of the painting is the Arabian sea.
The artist is based in Baroda, but came to London for six days of sittings with Rushdie before returning to finish the work in India. Portraits are relatively rare in his oeuvre which tends to concentrate on figure composition and narrative painting.