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Gallery Nvya Presents Krishen Khanna’s ‘Bandwallahs’: Capturing Joy and Resilience Through Art

Gallery Nvya opened its latest exhibition, featuring stunning artworks crafted by the renowned artist, Krishen Khanna. The exhibition is called “Bandwallahs.” It’s okay to say that Krishen Khanna used very vibrant colours to represent the happy parts of our lives. After the separation of India and Pakistan, he moved to India and as someone who enjoys life, he attempted to discover happiness in little things. Krishen Khanna used to work as a banker, and he wasn’t interested in art or creative activities. However, he has achieved many things in the arts, not just through paintings. He has also created tapestries and sculptures, using materials such as bronze and fiberglass. So, that means he sees things in different ways. In his series called Bandwallahs, he witnessed the heartwarming celebration of a group of band players who, despite being refugees, exuded happiness and joy. They were playing flutes and having a good time during the time of independence when people were being separated. Being in that situation helped him realise that it’s not important what we have lost, but it’s important to celebrate what we still have. So, he came up with this Bandwallah series.

Bandwallah Sculpture Series | Courtesy: Gallery Navya

Krishen Khanna’s upbringing took place in Lahore after being born in Faisalabad, Pakistan. After finishing his college education, he finally delved into the world of art by enrolling in evening art classes at the prestigious Mayo School of Art in Lahore. In 1947, Khanna’s family went to Shimla because India and Pakistan were divided. Following the completion of his college studies, he decided to explore the realm of art by enrolling in evening art classes at the esteemed Mayo School of Art in Lahore. He recreates in his early artworks the scenes that left a strong impression on him during that period. His initial art pieces consist of replicas of the scenes deeply imprinted in his memory during that period. The artworks he created in the beginning are mere reproductions of the vivid scenes he recollects from back then. His early artistic creations involve duplications of the scenarios he distinctly recalls from that period.

Stills from the Bandwallah Series. Courtesy: Gallery Navya

Krishen Khanna wanted to make figurative works and not the abstract, thus he chose the bandwallah to paint in their figurative form. He wanted to give importance to the human joys and values. He created works to enhance the beauty of enjoyment in human lives by celebrating whatever we possess now and by not thinking about past losses. The bright colours, a lot of yellow could be found in all of his works, as he always looked at the bright side of society his works seem colourful and with a bright shade. Even if the bandwallah story is sad, colours were used to show the joy in that. His work has human elements in it and reflects upon the deeper aspects of human emotions as a whole. These works should be seen as a playful act that a human searches in his life.

Courtesy: Gallery Navya

Khanna mostly creates realistic art and doesn’t focus on abstract ideas like many other artists of his time. During an interview, he mentioned that in the past he used to create abstract art, but now he focuses on drawing human figures. “I believed that the person who is affected by the situation they are in is being ignored. I want to focus on the people who are stuck in their own situation.” Khanna’s artwork is similar to photographs as it captures historical moments, but it is not realistic like actual photos. Khanna paints what he sees with excitement and without much planning, making sure to show what he is painting accurately. The artist uses different colours and brushstrokes to make ordinary things more interesting and artistic.

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