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Paintings of Krishen Khanna

















Profile of Krishen Khanna

Krishen Khanna

Location: New Delhi

Krishen Khanna, 90, is one of the surviving pillars of Indian contemporary art and a core-member of the influential Progressive Artists’ Group founded by Souza in the 1940’s. With his colleagues, he belongs to the generation that experienced painting and independence, painting for independence and painting from a position of independence. Krishen Khanna is not only prolific artist but also has influenced the art paradigm of India, capturing with brilliance and accuracy the vibrant hues and passion of a diverse nation.Khanna’s paintings, which are in major international collections, depict an everyday Indian life with all its trials and tribulations. He sold his first painting to Dr. Homi Bhabha, for the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in the 1950s; and has stuck to painting ever since giving up the job as a banker.

Born in 1925 in what is now Faislabad in Pakistan, Krishen Khanna grew up in Lahore, only studying art after he graduated from college at evening classes held at the Mayo School of Art there. In 1947, Khanna’s family moved to Shimla as a result of the Partition of India and Pakistan. A largely self-taught artist, Khanna studied at the Imperial Service College, Windsor, England, from where he graduated in 1940. After his family's move to India, a job with Grindlays Bank brought him to Bombay where he was invited to be a part of the now famous Progressive Artists’ Group. The first exhibition in which Khanna’s works were featured was one of this Group’s exhibitions held in 1949. In 1955, Khanna had his first solo show at the USIS, Chennai, and since then has been exhibiting his work widely in India and abroad.

Khanna’s favourite colour-palette, he says, is the Indian yellow. It has a very large range and scope he says adding “it’s a great colour”. It can also be transparent. Indian red, too, appeals to me.” He says.

Khanna’s themes have been myriad. Khanna’s paintings blend the abstract and the figurative which are at times misty and sometimes hazy. His imagery has been described as “a prism through which figures can be faintly discerned”. He has depicted displaced, distracted figures that he had observed with sadness during the Partition; people spending their days on Indian pavements; figures reading newspapers and sipping chai;
India’s
trucks and dusty vehicles rattling along and Christian themes such as the last supper, the Crucifixionand the events after that.

In 1964, Khanna was artist-in-residence at the American University, Washington D.C. In 1965, he won a fellowship from the Council for Economic and Cultural Affairs, New York following the travel grant they had awarded him three years earlier. Recognising his immense contribution to Indian Art, the Government of India has bestowed several honours upon him including the Lalit Kala Ratna from the President of India in 2004, the Padma Shri in 1990 and the Padma Bhushan, Government of India, 2011.

Academics

His Major exhibitions are

2004

'An Airing' at Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai (solo)

2003

Exhibition of drawings, Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai

2003

Transition at UBS in London

2003

'Of Memories, Dreams, Reverses', at Anant, New Delhi

2001

'Living Legends of Indian Contemporary Art', Tao Art Gallery, Mumbai

2001

'In Conversations', curated by Gayatri Sinha at Gallery Espace, New Delhi

2001

Indian Art Circle, Habitat Centre, New Delhi

2001

Kumar Art Gallery, New Delhi (solo)

2001

Saffronart and Pundole Art Gallery, New York

1999

'Mahabharat', Gallery 7, Mumbai

1998

'The Probing Eye', an exhibition of photographs, Surendra Paul Art Gallery, New Delhi

1998

'Drawings', Guild Art Gallery, Mumbai

1997

'Tryst with Destiny', Art from Modern India 1947-1997, Singapore Art Museum, organized by CIMA Gallery, Calcutta

1997

'Six Modern Masters', Kumar Gallery, New Delhi

1996

Modern and Contemporary Indian Paintings, Sothebys Auction, London

1996

'A Tree in my Life', Village Gallery, New Delhi

1996

'The Moderns', Inaugural Exhibition, NGMA, Mumbai

1996

'The Mahabharata, The Card Player and The Scribe’, Kumar Gallery, New Delhi

1995

'Indian Contemporary Paintings', Christie's Auction, London

1995

Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai (solo)

1995

'Bombay', presented by RPG Enterprises

1995

'River of Art', Inaugural Exhibition, Art Today

1994

'Indian Drawing Today', AIFACS, organized by Gallery Espace

1994

'The Solids', second Indian Drawing Biennale, exhibited as a special invitee

1994

Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi (solo)

1993

'Reflections & Images', Vadhera & Jehangir Gallery, Mumbai

1992

'Masters of Indian Art', Hotel Intercontinental, Bombay

1991

'Remembering Kali Pundole', Pundole

1991

The Fifth Biennale, Havana Cuba

1991

Gallery Espace, New Delhi (solo)

1991

Birla Academy of Art, Calcutta, Anniversary Exhibition

1991

'Addressing Gandhi', traveling exhibition by Sahmat

1989

'Timeless Art', Exhibition and Auction

1989

Sothebys in Bombay

1989

'Artist's Alert', exhibition and auction by Sahmat, New Delhi

1989

Solo Exhibition, Centre for Contemporary Art, New Delhi

1988

Festival of India, Japan

1988

First International Biennale, Lahore, Pakistan

1987

Festival of India, USSR

1987

'Coups de Coeur', Geneva

1986

Exhibition of drawings and paintings at Sarla Art Centre, Madras (solo)

1986

Baghdad International Festival of Art

1985

Ram Kumar & Krishen Khanna at Gallery 7, Bombay

1984

Inaugural Exhibition, Gallery 7

1983

Exhibition of drawings, Garhi Studio, New Delhi (solo)

1982

International Triennale, New Delhi

1982

'Modern Indian Painters' Hirschhorn Museum, Washington D. C.

1982

'Contemporary Indian Art', Burlington House, London

1982

'Myth and Reality', Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, UK

1981

Inaugural Exhibition, Roopankar Museum, Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal

1981

'Indian Painting Today', Jehangir Art Gallery, Bombay

1980

Exhibition, Rabindra Bhavan, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi (solo)

1979

Dhoomimal Art Gallery, New Delhi (solo)

1979

'Modern Asian Art', Fukuoka Art Museum, Japan

1976

25th Pugwash Conference, Madras

1976

'Pictorial Space', Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi

1976

'Indian Painting 1977', Chandigarh, organized by Black Partridge Gallery

1975

Dhoomimal Art Gallery, New Delhi (solo)

1975

Third Triennale of Contemporary World Art, New Delhi

1974

Black Partridge, New Delhi (solo)

1973

Pundole Gallery, Mumbai (solo)

1972

'Art Now', Kunika Chemould, New Delhi

1972

'One World through Art', Ben and Abbey Grey Foundation, St. Paul, MN, USA

1971

'Contemporary Indian Art', Renwick Gallery

1971

Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C.

1970

'Art Now', Kunika Chemould, New Delhi

1970

Expo '70, Indian Pavilion, Osaka, Japan

1969

Solo Exhibition, photographs, Kunika Chemould, New Delhi (solo)

1969

Solo Exhibition, experimental photographs, Pundole Gallery, Mumbai (solo)

1969

'Contemporary Art, Dialogue between East and West', Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Japan

1969

'Indian Painters 69', Max Mueller Bhavan & Birla Academy, Calcutta

1968

International Triennale, New Delhi

1968

New Art Centre, London

1966

Lincoln Center, New York