Upadhyay’s works use two media, photography and painting. Her works often portray the idea of ‘home’ as a sense of dislocation with domestic references, where people are violently displaced. The narrative content of her works speak strongly in an urban and thoughtful voice. She incorporates her self image along with photographs in her works, in order to bring distortions to the reading imagery, thereby interfering with what she wants to communicate. Upadhyay pulls in varied and often contradictory directions in her works, attempting to reflect the inner state of dislocation.
Drawing extensively from her own experience, Upadhyay crafted narratives from found materials to explore themes of gender, migration, socioeconomics, and urban development. “So much chaos in my work actually came from the city,” she explained. “When I work in my studio in Mumbai, there are lots of elements, of decay, of life, of chaos. It’s a double-edged condition when you see development in the making—you see growth but decay.” Born Hema Hirani in 1972 in Baroda, India, she earned both her BFA and MFA from the University of Baroda in 1995 and 1997, respectively. She went on to exhibit internationally, with solo shows at the MACRO museum in Rome, the Institute of Contemporary art in Brisbane, and the Gallery Nature Morte in New Dehli, among others.