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.