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Painter: Krishan Khanna
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Krishan Khanna Interviewded by Aditi Anand student of Miranda House College Delhi (2002)

KRISHAN KHANNA is one of the celebrated names of contemporary art. He started painting at a time when there was not much glamour in art along with his friends M.F. Husain, Tyeb Mehta, Ramkumar, Raza, Ara, Souza, Gaitonde and others. In fact he gave up a job in Grindlays Bank to pursue art about four decades ago - something that needed guts as the art scene in the Sixties was no way comparable to what it is now. His passion for art motivated him to take such a step. And his perseverance and interest fetched him rewards and accolades. Basically a self-taught artist, Krishan Khanna has also taught art in the United States without any formal academic qualification in the subject. His works reflect a socio-political commitment, especially the `Game' series. Depiction of violence and death is rather common perhaps stemming from his experiences during the Partition. The artist's empathy towards the downtrodden and ordinary people is vivid in his paintings 

For a painter who began painting in his youth and who juggled art and a bank job (he joined Grindlays bank in 1948 and was posted in Mumbai) for a few years, giving up a lucrative job was a courageous decision at a time when it was difficult to survive on `earnings' through art. Yet Krishan Khanna had the confidence though it was a dicey question as he says "there were uncertainties. They will always be there. I was painting and exhibiting. My shows in Mumbai were well received. My father always encouraged me in art and told me that I should do what I think I can. So I did just that. My wife stood by me when I resigned from the bank. Also I was lucky to be posted in Mumbai where my artist-friends Husain, Raza, Ara and others gave me hope to pursue art. They were inspiring and also critical." 

Krishan Khanna started at a time when there was no money or glamour in art. How does he view the situation today? "The changes have happened fast. Prices have increased reasonably. I feel confident of my economic viability. It's a good thing that economic conditions of the artists have improved."

Q IF YOU WERE A ROCK STAR WHO WOULD YOU BE?
Ringo Star

Q IF YOUR ART WAS AN ANIMAL WHICH WOULD IT BE ?
Sloth bear

Q REMIXES ARE THE WEAPONS OF THE DEVIL?
Everybody has a bit of the devil in them

Q WHAT WAS YOUR INSPIRATION ?
Painting itself was in inspiration, my father always encouraged me and all my friends were involved in it so i kind of grew up into it

Q DID YOU EVER QUESTION YOUR ART?
Yes i did which is why i worked in a bank for 13 1/2

Q WAS THIS YOUR FIRST CAREER OPTION ?
Yes definitely

Q IS A CAREER IN ART A RISKY PROPOSITION ?
People are buying more but at the same time the numbers of painters itself is also increasing manifold. though on the one hand purchasing power with regard to artworks has increased still it is essential to have another job as backup.

Q DO YOU THINK THE EDUCATION SYSTEM NEEDS TO BE RE-EVOLVED TO ENCOURAGE THE ARTS ?
Definitely i think the guru shisya method of teaching is ideal

Q WOULD MONETARY BENEFITS SUCH AS PENSIONS ENCOURAGE MORE PEOPLE TO TAKE UP ART ?
Not really, its hard but you have to depend on yourself

Q IF YOU WERE TO BE REBORN WHO OR WHAT WOULD YOU WANT TO BE ?
A painter definitely i have to be reborn as a painter at least 10 times before i get bored of it

Q IF YOU COULD BE GOD FOR A DAY AND COULD DO NOTHING ABOUT PEACE, POVERTY AND THE NUCLEAR BOMB WHAT WOULD YOU DO ?
I would be a god who paints sort of like vishwakarma

Q IF YOU COULD UNINVENT ANYTHING WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Computer

Q TRANCE IS NONSENSE OR THE NEXT STEP ?
It depends i mean i do like some of it.

Q IF YOU COULD BE ANY CHARACTOR FOR A DAY WHO WOULD YOU BE?
I think Amitabh Bachahan might want to be me

Q BEST SHOP TO BUY EQUIPMENT IN DELHI ?
I buy my material from Sveta Arts in lajpat Nagar, its owned by a fellow named Chawla

Q IDEAL AGE TO START LEARNING ART ?
Art is a development of the mind so any age is fine

Q ARE THEIR ANY INFORMATION AND RESOURCE CENTERS THAT YOUNG PEOPLE CAN REFER TO?
I'm not really sure but lalit kala akadami and National gallery of modern art.

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Interns

  1. Ananya Tiwari
    School/College : LSR, Delhi University
    Duration of the Project : 14-03-2017 to 25-04-2017
    Research Project : Read more

  2. Yastika Sahrawat
    School/College : Hansraj College, Delhi University
    Duration of the Project : 06-02-2017 to 18-03-2017
    Research Project : Zoroastrianism in DelhiWeekl Read more

  3. Excellent Hansda
    School/College : IIT Roorkee
    Duration of the Project : 02-12-2016 to 13-01-2017
    Research Project : Gardens of Read more

  4. Ashwarya Samkaria
    School/College : Delhi University
    Duration of the Project : 03-10-2016 to 13-01-2017
    Research Project : Odissi in DelhiRead more

  5. Tarini Singh
    School/College : Hansraj College, Delhi University
    Duration of the Project : 22-08-2016 to 02-10-2016
    Research Project : Vasant Kunj Read more

  6. Sachi Shukla
    School/College : National Institute of Fashion Technology
    Duration of the Project : 23-05-2016 to 17-07-2016
    Research Project : Motifs Read more

  7. Gargi Chanda
    School/College : National Institute of Fashion Technology
    Duration of the Project : 23-05-2016 to 17-07-2016
    Research Project : Maati: Pott Read more

  8. Aakansha Malia
    School/College : Miranda House, Delhi University
    Duration of the Project : 23-05-2016 to 03-07-2016
    Research Project : Excava Read more

  9. Manisha Chaudhary
    School/College : Miranda House, Delhi University
    Duration of the Project : 23-05-2016 to 03-07-2016
    Research Project : The Li Read more

  10. Renu Deshwal
    School/College : Daulat Ram College, Delhi University
    Duration of the Project : 25-01-2016 to 06-03-2016
    Research Project : Phoolw Read more

  11. Sakshi Singh
    School/College : Miranda House, Delhi University
    Duration of the Project : 11-01-2016 to 26-02-2016
    Research Project : Bird w Read more

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