Sunday, June 28th, 2009 | Author:

Krishen Khanna is one of the distinguished names in the Indian art industry. Along with his friends M.F. Husain, Tyeb Mehta, Ram Kumar, Raza, Souza, Gaitonde and others; Khanna started painting at a time when there was not much happening in the art industry. He was born in 1925 in the Lyallpur district (now in Pakistan). He then moved to Shimla during the partition era. In Lahore, Khanna attended evening classes at the Mayo School of Art. After coming to India, he took up a job with Grindlays Bank and was placed in Mumbai. But he gave up a job in Grindlays Bank to pursue art about four decades ago. During that time the art scenario was much different and enclosed than what it is now.  His ardor for art motivated him to take such a step. His hard work, perseverance and interest won him many rewards and praises in the art world. Krishen Khanna has also taught art in the United States without any formal academic qualification in the subject. The artist’s sympathy towards the browbeaten and poor people is vivid in his paintings. . Depiction of violence and can also be seen in Khanna’s work coming from his experiences during the Partition. 

Khanna sold his first painting in a major exhibition in to Dr. Homi Bhabha for the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. His father always encouraged and supported him to pursue art as a career. In fact his wife also supported him when he resigned from the job. Khanna shows and exhibitions in Mumbai were very well received and this boosted up his confidence. Khanna was also invited to join the Progressive Artists’ Group with whom he remained involved for the rest of his time.

In 1962, Khanna was awarded the ‘Rockefeller Fellowship’. In 1963-64, he was ‘the Artist in Residence’ at the American University in Washington. Apart from several solo shows, he has participated in group shows like the ‘Tokyo Biennale’ in 1957 and 196 1, the ‘Sao Paulo Biennale’ in 1960, ‘the Venice Biennale’ in 1962, and several others. Khanna has held many vital positions in decision-making bodies of the Lalit Kala Academy, National Gallery of Modern Art and Roopanker Museum, Bhopal. In 1996, he was awarded the grand ‘Padma Shri’.

Category: Indian artists
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