PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT INTERNATIONAL COLLECTION
Charcoal on paper
29 ¾ x 21 ⅝ in. (75.5 x 55 cm.)
Signed, dated and inscribed 'Emmaus / KKhanna / 79' lower left
Christian imagery has fascinated Krishen Khanna throughout his painterly career. An early source of inspiration was a conversation with his father while driving up to the hill station of Simla. Along the way, they stopped at a dhaba for tea when Kahan Chand remarked that any of the waiters at the cafe could be a Christ figure. In the artist’s own words, 'The Christ series are set here in Delhi, Nizamuddin in fact, and appear as current happenings. He is wandering amongst us or sleeping with us... I painted Jesus, not in the image given by European painters, but as one of the fakirs one sees around Hazrat Nizammuddin.' (Interview with Chanda Singh, India Magazine, September 1984)
In his Emmaus works, Khanna intentionally blurs the boundaries of the biblical themes, allowing the work a less specifically religious significance. He uses references from The Bible within an entirely local context, and by doing so, their symbolism becomes related to modern day social concerns, such as the plight of the labouring classes, the corruption of figures placed in authority and the persecution of the poor by those that they have placed in power.
The current work, done in 1979, preceded an exhibition of thirteen works done the following year at Rabindra Bhavan on the theme of Christ’s betrayal. It could well be a preparatory drawing or a study for one of the larger works in that exhibition. Khanna has painted many versions of Emmaus right through the 1970s up until the present day. It is a theme that strikes resonance with his larger artistic concerns as an artist working amidst the urban masses in Delhi.
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About The Artist:
KRISHEN KHANNA (b. 1925)