Krishen Khanna (b.1925)
Oil on Canvas
30 x 42 in.
Although becoming a member of the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group (PAG) in 1950, along with other figurative modernists such as M. F. Husain and F. N. Souza, Krishen Khanna was unique amongst the group in that he grew up in Lahore, had spent time studying in England, and came to art only after an established career in banking. At the age of six Khanna's father came back from Milan with a copy of The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci, which would spark a lifelong fascination with Christian imagery for Khanna. This is clearly evident in his work St. Mark exhibited here, where the two hooded figures sit in candid discussion over a meal at a table that could have come straight from The Last Supper itself. The image, with St. Mark on the left, deep in conversation with a black acolyte alludes to Mark being honored as the founder of Christianity in Africa, a role that would have fascinated the always multi-cultural Khanna.
Born in Lyallpur (modern day Faisalabad) in what is today Pakistan, Khanna has become increasingly recognized as a pillar of South Asian Modernism, despite being self-taught as a painter and less widely known and exhibited than many of his progressive contemporaries. Khanna continues living and working in Delhi to the present day.
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