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Lot Details

Signed 'KKhanna' (lower left)
Signed and inscribed 'Krishen Khanna' / 'A Woodland Melody' / oil on canvas (on the reverse)

Acquired directly from the artist
Private collection, New Delhi

‘Krishen Khanna’s ‘Bandwallahs’ occupy a grey zone - they represent cultural practices but not cultural property, they demonstrate performative spectacle but are not claimed by a body of accepted performative coda. The genesis of Krishen’s Bandwallah paintings is rooted in personal experience. While driving out of Garhi Studios one day, in the early 1970s, his car was held up by a passing band. Against the background of the 18th century Garhi fort with its large, capacious studios, the raucous band crammed into the small mean street of Garhi village. The syncopated tunes intended for it, the quotient of assertive maleness, the residual image of the British colonial march past, and sanguine military energy collapsed into a singular image in that warm Delhi afternoon. Positioning himself as sympathetic spectator and as somewhat humorous narrator, Krishen has steadily painted the Bandwallahs incorporating all the elements he had seen that day. His engagement with music and musicians as a subject has been a steady preoccupation since then.’

‘Most recently, the Bandwallahs are painted singly or in groups, playing in their trombones and trumpets. In their performative aspect, the bandwallahs embody multiple histories. The figures are foreshortened to represent a compression of bodies and instruments, emphasized by the curves and arcs achieved by each form. In the play of flat colours of red, a geometric rhythm emerges that mimics the syncopated sounds of the band. The woodland element in the foreground and background appears to balance the compressed activity in the rest of the frame.’ [...] (Krishen Khanna: Images in My Time, Mapin Publishing, 2007, pg. 27 & 36)

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.