Krishen Khanna was 22 in 1947; Partition and his forced move from Lahore to Shimla was an experience he never got over.
Even 60 years on, the trauma of that time recurs in his paintings.
“It was a painful event, the kind that leaves a scar on your ego and psyche,” says Khanna, 92.
He still has nightmares, he adds, even though he was one of the fortunate ones, one of the relatively few who managed to pick up the pieces and move on, in most respects.
“The fact that I did all right is no reason that I must forget what happened,” Khanna says.
The agony, pathos and suffering, his own and others’; the act of leaving everything one had loved behind, is a strong theme in his current exhibition, an untitled show of 24 paintings created through 2016.
There is, for instance, a moving work on Bheeshma from the Mahabharata. “That epic too is about partition, partition within a family,” says Khanna. “In adverse situations sometimes even the wise ones, like Bheeshma, have to do things they don’t want to do. He sided with the Kauravas because he was living with them. But he dearly loved the Pandavas.”
In terms of artistic style at least, this has been a year of returning to his roots — going back from giving colours an important role to focusing on drawings and the line.
“In between, in his Bandwalla series, colours played an important role. But recently he has moved back to what is the purest form of expression for him,” says Hugo Weihe, CEO of Saffronart.
This show is an extension of Saffronart’s mission to invite people to engage with art by showcasing one senior artist at a time. Earlier one-man shows in the same vein have featured SH Raza, VS Gaitonde and FN Souza. Step inside and see what you make of this one.
WHAT: An exhibition of new works by Krishen Khanna
WHERE: Saffronart, Industry Manor, Appasaheb Marathe Marg, Prabhadevi
WHEN: 11 am to 7 pm
ENTRY IS FREE