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Krishen Khanna View Artworks of Krishen Khanna Back to Artist

One of the most versatile modernists of our times, Krishen Khanna is known the world over for an artistic idiom that is structurally rooted in the aesthetics of  European modernism but its subject matter takes direct inspiration from the harsh socio-political reality of the artist’s times.

Krishen Khanna was born in in 1925 in Lyallpur ( now known as Faisalabad, Pakistan ). A largely self taught artist, he attended Imperial Service College in Windsor , England in 1940. The artist’s family shifted to India at the time of partition. Hanna arrived in Bombay in 1948 where he began a career in banking . In Bombay, he was invited to be a part of the now famous Progressive Artists’ Group. The first exhibition in which Khanna’s works were featured was one of the group’s exhibitions held in 1949. In 1955, he had his first solo show in Chennai and since then, he has been widely exhibiting in India and abroad.

One of the major turning points in Krishen Khanna’s life was the eyar 1961 when he left his 14 years of stint with banking to become a full time artist. With a Rockfeller Fellowship, he travelled to Japan in 1962 where he created a body of works with ink on rice paper, inspired by an ancient form of Chinese calligraphy.

    In Krishan Khanna’s works, there is no schizophrenia, no masochism, no surreal fancy- flights, no   banal political comment, real or simulated. Bereft of any mannered stance or attitudinising, his paintings have the directness of reportage. However, the familiar threshold is only to lure the viewer into a world of classical restraint and grace. There is a refinement of the soul in Krishan Khanna which makes his figures eloquent and retrieves their dignity on the canvas from the throes of a dehumanising reality.

Krishen Khanna was felicitated with a Padmashri in 1990. He lives and works in New Delhi.


Self taught artist

  1940 Imperial Service College, Windsor, England

  Punjab University, Lahore  



Selected Solo Exhibitions  

  2016 'Krishen Khanna: Drawings & Paintings', Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi

  2015 'When the band begins to play...', Grosvenor Gallery, London

  2013 'A Celebration of Lines', Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai

  2010 'Krishen Khanna: A Retrospective', presented by Saffronart, Mumbai at Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi

  2008 'The Savage Heart', Cymroza Art Gallery, Mumbai

  2005 Saffronart and Berkeley Square Gallery, London

  2004 'An Airing' Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai

  2001 Kumar Art Gallery, New Delhi

  2001 Saffronart and Pundole Art Gallery, New York

  1995 Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai

  1994 Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi

  1991 Gallery Espace, New Delhi

  1989 Centre for Contemporary Art, New Delhi.

  1986 Exhibition of drawings and paintings at Sarla Art Centre, Chennai

  1983 Exhibition of drawings, Garhi Studio, New Delhi

  1980 Rabindra Bhavan, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi

  1979 Dhoomimal Art Gallery, New Delhi

  1975 Dhoomimal Art Gallery, New Delhi

  1974 Black Partridge, New Delhi

  1973 Pundole Gallery, Mumbai

  1969 Photographs, Kunika-Chemould, New Delhi

  1969 Experimental Photographs, Pundole Gallery, Mumbai

  1966 Kumar Art Gallery, New Delhi

  1965 Egan Gallery, New York

  1964 Kumar Art Gallery, New Delhi

  1964 Watkins Art Gallery, American University, Washington D.C.

  1962 Kunika Art Centre

  1962 Leicester Galleries, London

  1961 Ashoka Gallery, Kolkata

  1961 Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai

  1960 Kumar Art Gallery, New Delhi

  1960 Leicester Galleries, London

  1959 Kumar Gallery, New Delhi

  1958 Kumar Gallery, New Delhi

  1957 All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society (AIFACS), New Delhi

  1955 USIS, Chennai


2013 'Ideas of the Sublime', presented by Vadehra Art Gallery at Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi

 2013 'Edge of Reason- and beyond, into pure creativity', presented by Indian Art Circle at Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi

  2013 'The Discerning Eye: Modern Masters', Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi

 2012 'Talking Heads', Art Alive Gallery, New Delhi

 2011 'The Art of Drawing', The Guild Art Gallery, Mumbai

  2011 'Masterclass', Dhoomimal Art Gallery, New Delhi

  2010-11 'A Collection', Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai

 2010 Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai

 2010 '10 x 10', Gallery Threshold, New Delhi   2010 'Black is Beautiful', India Fine Art, Mumbai

  2010 'Essential, Eclectic,...Ephemeral', The Harrington Mansions, Kolkata

  2009 'Bharat Ratna! Jewels of Modern Indian Art', Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

  2009 'Master Class', The Arts Trust, Mumbai

  2009 'Sacred and Secular', India Fine Art, Mumbai

  2009 'Kalpana: Figurative Art in India', presented by The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) at Aicon Gallery, London; The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR)

  2008 'Faces', Tao Art Gallery, Mumbai

  2008 'Baisakh 08', Polka Art Gallery, New Delhi

  2004 ‘Concept and Form’, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi

  2003 Exhibition of drawings, Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai

  2003 Transition at UBS in London

  2003 'Of Memories, Dreams, Reverses', at Anant, New Delhi

  2001 'Living Legends of Indian Contemporary Art', Tao Art Gallery, Mumbai

  2001 'In Conversations', Gallery Espace, New Delhi

  2001 Indian Art Circle, Habitat Centre, New Delhi

  2001 Saffronart and Pundole Art Gallery, New York

  1999 'Mahabharat', Gallery 7, Mumbai

  1998 'The Probing Eye', an exhibition of Photographs, Surendra Paul Art Gallery, New Delhi

 1998 'Drawings', Guild Art Gallery, Mumbai

1997 'Tryst with Destiny', Art from Modern India 1947-1997, Singapore Art Museum, organized by Centre for International Modern Art (CIMA), Kolkata

1997 'Six Modern Masters', Kumar Gallery, New Delhi

1996 Modern and Contemporary Indian Paintings, Sothebys Auction, London

 1996 'A Tree in my Life', Village Gallery, New Delhi

 1996 'The Moderns', Inaugural Exhibition, National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), Mumbai

 1996 'The Mahabharata, The Card Player and The Scribe’, Kumar Gallery, New Delhi

1995 'Indian Contemporary Paintings', Christie's Auction, London

 1995 'Bombay', presented by RPG Enterprises

 1995 'River of Art', Inaugural Exhibition, Art Today 1994 'Indian Drawing Today', All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society (AIFACS), organized by Gallery Espace, New Delhi

  1994 'The Solids', second Indian Drawing Biennale, exhibited as a special invitee

  1993 'Reflections and Images', Vadhera and Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai

  1992 'Masters of Indian Art', Hotel Intercontinental, Mumbai

  1991 'Remembering Kali Pundole', Pundole Art Gallery, Mumbai

  1991 Birla Academy of Art, Anniversary Exhibition , Kolkata

  1991 'Addressing Gandhi', traveling exhibition by Sahmat

  1989 'Timeless Art', Exhibition and Auction

  1989 Sothebys in Mumbai

  1989 'Artist's Alert', exhibition and auction by Sahmat, New Delhi

  1984 Inaugural Exhibition, Gallery 7, Mumbai

  1982 'Modern Indian Painters' Hirschhorn Museum, Washington D. C.

  1982 'Contemporary Indian Art', Burlington House, London

  1982 'Myth and Reality', Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, UK

  1981 Inaugural Exhibition, Roopankar Museum, Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal

  1981 'Indian Painting Today', Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai

  1979 'Modern Asian Art', Fukuoka Art Museum, Japan

  1976 'Pictorial Space', Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi

  1976 'Indian Painting 1977', Chandigarh, organized by Black Partridge Gallery

  1972 'Art Now', KunikaChemould, New Delhi

  1972 'One World through Art', Ben and Abbey Grey Foundation, St. Paul, MN, USA

  1971 'Contemporary Indian Art', Renwick Gallery

  1971 Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C.

  1970 'Art Now', KunikaChemould, New Delhi

  1969 'Contemporary Art, Dialogue between East and West', Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Japan

  1969 'Indian Painters 69', Max Mueller Bhavan & Birla Academy, Kolkata

  1968 New Art Centre, London

  1966 Lincoln Centre, New York

  1965 'Ten Contemporary Artists from India' University of South Florida, Tampa; Jackson Art Museum, Jacksonville; Delgado Art Museum, New Orleans; Hunter Gallery, Chattanooga; Colorado Fine Art Center, Colorado Springs, Long Beach; Art Institute, San Francisco; East Wing Center, Honolulu

  1965 'Ten Contemporary Painters from India' MIT, Cambridge; New Jersey State Museum, Trenton.

  1964 'Six Artists in Black and White', Shridharani Gallery, New Delhi

1963 'Contemporary Painters from India', Gallery 63, New York

  1963 'Eight Contemporary Artists from India', Lever House, New York

  1959 'Artists of Fame and of Promise', Leicester Galleries, London

  1959 'Trends in Contemporary Painting from India', Graham Gallery, New York

  1959 'Modern Indian Art', Cairo

  1959 'Contemporary Art from India', Essen, Dortmund, Zurich

  1959 Inaugural Exhibition, Gallery 59, Mumbai

  1956 'Eight Painters', Indian and Eastern Newspaper Society Building, New Delhi

  1952-53 Progressive Artists at Madras College of Art, Chennai

  1949 Progressive Artist Group, Chetna Restaurant, Mumbai

  1949 Progressive Artist Group, Artists Aid Centre


  1985 Ram Kumar and KrishenKhanna , Gallery 7, Mumbai

  1954 With M F Husain at All India Fine Arts and Crafts society (AIFACS), New Delhi


  2015 'Abby Grey and Indian Modernism: Selections from the NYU Art Collection', Grey Art Gallery, New York University, New York

  2014 'Ode to Monumental: Celebration, Visuality, Ideology', presented by Saffronart at Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi and Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai

  2012 'Synergy 2012', 12th Anniversary Show, Tao Art Gallery, Mumbai

  2012 'Crossings: Time Unfolded, Part 2', Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA), New Delhi

  2011 'Ethos V: Indian Art Through the Lens of History (1900 to 1980), Indigo Blue Art, Singapore

  2011 ‘Manifestations V', Delhi Art Gallery, New Delhi

  2011 'Roots in the Air, Branches Below: Modern & Contemporary Art from India', San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose

  2011 'Time Unfolded', Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA), New Delhi

  2011 'Celebration 2011', Annual Exhibition, Kumar Art Gallery, New Delhi

    2010 'Art Celebrates 2010: Sports and the City', represented by Art Alive Gallery at Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi to coincide with the hosting of the Commonwealth Games

  2010 'Master’s Corner', organized by Indian Contemporary Art Journal at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai; India International Art Fair, New Delhi

  2010 'Contemporary Printmaking In India', presented by Priyasri Art Gallery, Mumbai at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai; Priyasri Art Gallery, Mumbai

  2010 'Evolve: 10th Anniversary Show', Tao Art Gallery, Mumbai

  2010 Annual Exhibition, Chawla Art Gallery, New Delhi

  2008-09 'Paz Mandala', Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi

  2008 'Harvest 2008', organized by Arushi Arts at The Stainless Gallery, New Delhi

  1991 The Fifth Biennale, Havana Cuba

  1988 First International Biennale, Lahore, Pakistan

  1988 Festival of India, Japan

  1987 Festival of India, USSR

  1987 'Coups de Coeur', Geneva

  1986 Baghdad International Festival of Art

  1982 International Triennale, New Delhi

  1976 25th Pugwash Conference, Chennai

  1975 3rd Triennale of Contemporary World Art, New Delhi   1970 Expo '70, Indian Pavilion, Osaka, Japan

  1968 International Triennale, New Delhi

  1965 Annual Exhibition, Lalit Kala Akademi , New Delhi

  1962 National Exhibition, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi

  1962 Venice Biennale, Indian Participation

  1961 Tokyo Biennale

  1960 Sao Paulo Biennale

  1957 Tokyo Biennale

  1946 Annual Exhibition, Punjab Art Society  

Honours and Awards

  2011 Padma Bhushan, Government of India

  2004 Lalit Kala Ratna from The President of India

  1997 Kala Ratna, All India Fine Arts & Crafts Society(AIFACS), New Delhi

  1990 Padma Shri, Government of India

  1989 Gold Medal, First International Biennale of Art, Lahore, Pakistan

  1989 Sahitya Kala Parishad Award, New Delhi

  1986 Presidents Award at Baghdad International Festival of Art

  1965 Award, Lalit Kala Akademi Annual Exhibition, New Delhi

  1965 Fellowship of the Council for Economic and Cultural Affairs, New York

  1964 Artist–in-Residence, American University, Washington DC.

  1962-63 Fellowship Rockefeller Council, New York

  1962 Travel Fellowship by Council for Economic and Cultural Affairs, New York

  1955 Commendation, Bombay Art Society Award, Mumbai

  1955 Saurashtra Government Award for Oil Painting


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