Born in Lyallpur (now Faislabad, Pakistan), in pre-partition India, he attended evening classes at the Mayo School of Art, Lahore. Krishen Khanna moved to Shimla during the partition .After arriving in India he took up a post with the Grindlay’s Bank and was placed in Mumbai. Khanna was invited to join the Progressive Artists’ Group with who he remained in active association. He was awarded the Rockefeller Fellowship in 1962 and was Artist-in-Residence at the American University in Washington in 1963-64. Apart from several one man shows he has participated in group shows like the Tokyo Biennale 1957 and 1961, the Sao Paulo Biennale 1960, the Venice Biennale 1962, the Festival of India in the then USSRand Japan in 1987 and 1988. He was awarded the Padmashree in 1996.
Lives and works in New Delhi.
Krishen’s been affianced with the fabric of myth especially Indian epics and more so with the Mahabharata. This preoccupation with Biblical allegory and Hindu myth has served as his instrument of engagement during troubled periods inIndiapolity. Here the title reminds us of the great story of the blind king Dhritarashtra and his fair queen Gandhari in the great Indian epic of Mahabharata. A Typical codified narrative, in which each episode begins and then ends with a question these then further elaborate on narrative cycles contained in the great epics.
In viewing Krishen Khanna’s work, it is his background as an artist and observer of a historical context that provides a backdrop with which to view. In an output of painting that exceeds fifty years, Krishen Khanna’s works attract more than one reading. For some viewers, he has come to be seen as a genre painter, a narrator who weaves and spins images out of fragmentsof time. On the other end of the spectrum he is an artist who encapsulates the climatic episode of myth or poetry into the painted image. Through a lack of physical detail; the paintings aspire towards a quality of timelessness.
Khanna’s gestural impact on the canvas and masterful deployment of paint to evoke the human situation is unmatched.