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Lot Details

Signed 'KKhanna' (lower right)
Further signed and dated 'KKhanna / 25th April 2018' (on the reverse)

Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

By the early 1970s, Khanna had emerged as a significant painter of Indian street figures. He oscillates between genre and allegory treating the subject as a distinct subculture. "Through the combination of the vestige of empire and its visual pomp, folkloric and popular music, they represent a kind of reverse Orientalism. Arguably, the bandwallahs stand at the intersection of numerous strains of Indian public spectacle. Their performance, such as it is, exists in the ephemera of immediate gratification and a claim of public space, if only in passing. At the same time, they are released from the bondage of memory and tradition, to become emblematic of a new popular culture, one that draws from the past as it looks in the future. Equally, it is one that compels a transition from the grand historical objective of triumph embodied in the band, to the petty personalized pleasures of the street. Their abbreviated careers then represent the spurious state of hired pleasure." (Gayatri Sinha, Krishen Khanna: Images in my Time, Mapin Publishing, 2007, p. 34 & 35)

The bandwallahs, as seen here, appears to be playing on their instruments belting out a popular tune. In painting these unknown and unnamed men, Khanna documented subjective identities of people he had known to a generic figure, with an indeterminate part and unmapped future, and in which they read in terms of occupation. This deep engagement to the subject serves as a rite of passage to the multiple places the bandwallahs occupy; between the public and the private, the popular and the not, and in the shared histories they traverse.

Krishen Khanna

(b. 1925)
Born in 1925, in Lahore, Krishen Khanna worked as a banker while he studied painting as a part time programme at the Mayo School of Art. A job transfer brought him in close proximity with the members of the Progressive Artists’ Group in Mumbai, where he chose to pursue a full-time career as an artist. In 1962-63 Khanna received a fellowship from the Rockefeller Council, New York and was artist-in-residence at the American University, Washington DC. In 2010, Saffronart hosted a retrospective of his work at the Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi. His other solo exhibitions include those held by Saffronart in association with Osborne Samuel and Berkeley Square Gallery at the Royal Academy, London, in 2007; Saffronart and Berkeley Square Gallery, London, in 2005; Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai 2004; Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi, 1994; and Kumar Art Gallery, New Delhi, 2001, 1966, 64, 60, 59 and 58. His works were also included in exhibitions held by Saffronart and Pundole Art Gallery, 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.