Artist to be featured at Museum of Fine Arts found dead in India

“8x12” by Hema Upadhyay.
“8x12” by Hema Upadhyay.Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Officials from the Museum of Fine Arts are mourning the death of India-based artist Hema Upadhyay, whose body was found in a sewage drain in Mumbai just months before her work was scheduled to appear in an exhibit at the museum.

Police in Mumbai are investigating Upadhyay’s death as a murder, according to The Times of India. The artist’s body was found wrapped in plastic and dumped in a cardboard box, the report said. Her lawyer was also reportedly found dead.

In a statement posted to Facebook on Monday, MFA employees said they were shocked and saddened by the news of Upadhyay’s death, calling her a talented artist.


“Hema’s captivating work reflected not only her unique creative vision, but also her deeply felt compassion for the vulnerable communities around her,” said Al Miner, assistant curator of contemporary art, in a statement. “I’ll miss her generous spirit, intelligence, warmth, and energy.”

A museum spokeswoman said the institute had no further statement at this time but said Upadhyay’s work is still expected to be part of the exhibit, “Megacities Asia,” set to debut in April.

“We join the international art community in mourning, and extend our deepest condolences,” the museum said in the Facebook statement.

Upadhyay, who lived and worked in Mumbai, is one of 11 featured artists from around the world who are part of the exhibit, which highlights the urban environments of large cities in Asia.

The display, which will be housed in the Ann and Graham Gund Gallery and run through July 17, will be composed of large sculptures and installations from artists living in “megacities” with populations of 10 million people or more.

Upadhyay’s piece is an 8-by-12-foot installation made from aluminum sheets, car scrap, enamel paint, plastic sheets, found objects, resin, and hardware material, museum officials said.


Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.