Krishen Khanna was born in 1925 in Faislabad in Pakistan.
He grew up in Lahore, Pakistan. In 1938 Krishen travelled from Bombay to Britain and from 1938 to 1942 he attended the Imperial Service College, UK. From 1942 to 1944 Krishen enrolled in Government College at Lahore, Pakistan. He attended the art evening classes at the Mayo school of Arts, Lahore. In 1946 he commenced working with Grindlays Bank and continued for fourteen years.
In 1947 his family moved to Shimla. In 1961 he chose to resign from the bank and devoted full time to art. Krishen is a self-taught artist.
Krishen had several solo exhibitions in India and overseas:
In 1955 he had a solo exhibition at USIS, Chennai. In 1957 he exhibited solo at All India Fine Arts and Crafts Society, New Delhi. In 1957 - 1960, 1966 and 2001 he exhibited in New Delhi. In 1959 and 1962 he had solo exhibitions in Leicester Gallery, London. In 1961 he had solo exhibition at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai. In 1964 he exhibited at Watkins Art Gallery, American University, Washington DC. In 1965 he showed at Egan Gallery, New York. In 1969, 1973 - 1975, 1979, 1989, 1991, 1994 and 1995 he exhibited in Mumbai and New Delhi. In 1980 he exhibited solo at Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi. In 1986 he had a solo exhibition in Chennai. In 1999 he exhibited solo ‘Mahabharata’ at Gallery 7, Mumbai. In 2001 he had a solo exhibition, New York. In 2005 he had a solo in London. In 2004 and 2008 he had exhibited solo in Mumbai. In 2010 he had a retrospective ‘Krishen Khanna: A Retrospective’ at Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi. In 2015 he had a solo ‘When The Band Begins To Play…’ at Grosvenor Gallery, London. In 2016 he had a solo exhibition in New Delhi.
Krishen participated in several group exhibitions in India and across the globe:
In 1946 he participated in the Annual Exhibition, Punjab Art Society, Punjab. In 1949 as a member of the Progressive Artists Group (PAG) exhibited at Artists’ Aide Centre and Chetana Restaurant, Rampart Row, Mumbai. In 1952 - 1953 PAG exhibited in Madras College of Art, Chennai. n 1954 Krishen had a joint exhibition with M.F. Husain at AIFACS in New Delhi. In 1956 he took part in ‘Eight Painters Exhibition’ in New Delhi. In 1957 and 1961 he participated in Tokyo Biennale, Japan. In 1959 he participated in a group shows at Essen, Dortmund & Zurich. In 1959 he exhibited in a group show ‘Modern Indian Art’ in Cairo and participated in group exhibitions in New York and Leicester Galleries in London. In 1960 Krishen participated in Sao Paulo Biennale. In 1962 he participated in Venice Biennale in Italy. In 1962 and 1965 he participated in a group show at Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi. In 1968 he took part in International Triennale, New Delhi. In 1963 Krishen participated in ‘Eight Contemporary Artists from India’ and ‘Contemporary Painter from India’ in New York. In 1964 Krishen took part in ‘Six Artists in Black and White’ in New Delhi. In 1965 he participated in ‘Ten Contemporary Painter from India’ in New Jersey State Museum in Trenton. In 1965 the show travelled to University of South Florida in Tampa; Jackson Art Museum, Jacksonville; Delgado Art Museum, New Orleans; Hunter Gallery, Chattanooga; Colorado Fine Art Centre in Colorado Springs; Art Institute, San Francisco and Eat Wing Centre in Honolulu. In 1966 Krishen exhibited in a group show at Lincoln Centre, New York. In 1968 he took part in an exhibition at New Art Centre in London. In 1969 he participated in a group show, ‘Indian Painters 69’ at Max Muller Bhavan and Birla Academy in Kolkata. In 1969 he took part in ‘Contemporary Art, Dialogue between East and West’ at Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Japan. In 1971 he participated in an exhibition at Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC. In 1971 he took part in a group show at Renwick Gallery. In 1972 Krishen showcased in ‘One World Through Art’ at Ben and Abbey Grey Foundation, St. Paul, Minnesota. In 1972 he exhibited in a group show in New Delhi. In 1976 he participated in ‘Indian Painting 1977’ in Chandigarh. He took part in ‘Pictorial Space’ at Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi. In 1979 he showcased in ‘Modern Asian Art’ at Fukuoka Art Museum in Japan. In 1981 he exhibited in ‘Indian Painting Today’ at Jehangir Art Gallery in Mumbai. In 1984 he participated in a group show at Gallery 7, Mumbai. In 1985 he had a joint exhibition with Ram Kumar at Gallery 7, Mumbai. In 1989 he was showcased at Sotheby’s in Mumbai. In 1989 he participated in a group show at Sahmat in New Delhi. In 1991 and 1992 he took part in group shows in Mumbai and Kolkata. In 1993 he exhibited in ‘Reflections and Images’ at Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai. In 1995 he exhibited in Christies Auction (London). In 1996 he showcased at National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai and in Sotheby’s Auction, London. In 1997 he participated in group shows: ‘Six Modern Masters’ at Kumar Gallery, New Delhi and ‘Tryst with Destiny, Art from Modern Indian 1947 - 1997’ at the Singapore Art Museum. In 2004, 2008 and 2010 - 2013 he participated in various exhibitions in New Delhi and Mumbai. In 2009 he participated in an exhibition in Mumbai and at Aicon Gallery, London. He participated in ‘Bharat Ratna’ Jewels of Modern Indian Art at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. In 2013 he participated in an exhibition ‘Edge of Reason - And Beyond’ at Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi. In 2013 he showcased in ‘Ideas of the Sublime’ at Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi.
He has received several awards:
In 1955 he received Commendation from Bombay Art Society, Mumbai and Saurashtra Government Award, Gujarat. In 1962 and 1965 he received travel fellowships from Council of Economic and Cultural Affairs, New York. In 1962 - 1963 he received fellowship from Rockfeller Council, New York. In 1964 he was Artist-in-Residence at American University, Washington DC. In 1965 he received an award from Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi. In 1986 he received the Presidents Award at Baghdad International Festival of Art. In 1989 he was honored with the Sahitya Kala Parishad Award, New Delhi and he was recipient of Gold Medal in First International Biennale of Art in Lahore, Pakistan. In 1990 he was conferred Padmashri by Government of India, New Delhi. In 1997 he was honored Kala Ratna from AIFACS, New Delhi. In 2004 he received Lalit Kala Ratna from Government of India, New Delhi. In 2011 he was conferred with the Padma Bhushan by Government of India, New Delhi.
He works and lives in Shimla.