Krishen khanna

Progressive artists’ group—-Krishen Khanna

Krishen Khanna is one of the progressive artists’ group associates born in Lyallpur, India (now in Pakistan). He attended Imperial Service College in England. He is a self-taught artist. In 1962, he received Rockefeller Fellowship. His art springs from his surroundings and the life around him. He is a kind of mediator and interpreter but never a subject. He is a narrator of the surroundings rather than his inner self.

Krishen Khanna

In 1938, he traveled to Britain on RMS Strathmore from Bombay. He studied in Imperial Service College from 1938 to 1942 after that he returned and studied in Government College, Lahore from 1942 to 1944. In 1946, he started working for the Grindlays bank for 14 years. It was the year 1961 when he resigned and started focusing on his art.

Life, Art, and Career

In 1950, Vasudeo S. Gaitonde, Prafulla Dahanukar, Krishen Khanna, and Mohan Samant joined the Group. Following the departure of the two main founders Souza and Raza from India a few years later, S.K. Bakre also left the group, which ultimately disbanded in 1956.

Krishen’s introduction to allegory and religious symbolism is buried in a childhood memory. When his father returned from his doctoral studies in England in 1932, he brought with him a copy of Da Vinci’s The Last Supper which he keenly studied. He spent summer holidays at the vicarage of the Franciscan Brother, Joseph Gardener who reinforced his readings of the Bible. This gentle figure is what inspired his first painting of St. Francis, a recurring subject in his painting. From the late 1960s, he engaged in a series of paintings on Christ that start with The Last Supper, and Garden at Gethsemane and gradually culminate in Betrayal, Christ’s Descent from Cross, Pieta, and Emmaus. The series gains significance not only because of its appearance during the emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi but because of the kinship it shares with Krishen’s other work of the 1970s.

Exhibitions and awards

He became an artist-in-residence at the American University, Washington DC. In 2010, a retrospective of his work at the Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi was exhibited. His other solo exhibitions were held in London, in 2005 and 2007; Mumbai 2004; New Delhi, 1994; and New Delhi, 2001, 1966, 64, 60, 59, and 58. His works were also included in exhibitions in galleries in India and New York in 2001 and 2002.

In 2011, the Government of India awarded him with the Padma Bhushan; in 2004 he received the Lalit Kala Ratna from the President of India; and in 1997 he received the Kala Ratna from the All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society, New Delhi. Khanna lives and works in New Delhi.

From the book Krishen Khanna “The Embrace of Love” by Gayatri Sinha.





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