Bandwallas in a Forest

Bandwallas in a Forest
signed, titled, inscribed and dated 'KRISHEN KHANNA / KKhanna / Bandwallas in a Forest / oil on cotton canvas. / APRIL 2004 / Oil Colours used :- WINSOR + NEWTON. (ARTIST'S QUALITY) / ROWNEY (do)' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
40 1/4 x 30 1/4 in. (102.2 x 76.8 cm.)
Painted in 2005
Indian Contemporary, Hong Kong
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2005


Nishad Avari
Nishad Avari Specialist, Head of Department


From the early 1970s, Krishen Khanna’s work engaged with urban life as he experienced it in the rapidly expanding metropolis of Delhi, particularly through subaltern figures like the bandwallas, or members of local brass bands, and manual laborers he regularly encountered. “In a career that spans almost six decades his large body of work places him at the apex of engagement with everyday Indian life. How he mediates this engagement, the parables and play that he brings into view are the determinants of how we may read his paintings” (G. Sinha, Krishen Khanna, The Embrace of Love, Ahmedabad, 2005, p. 10).

The bandwallas were hired to play their set of standards at wedding processions and other public ceremonies. For Khanna, these figures, in their tragicomic celebration of the joyous occasions of people who are strangers to them, perfectly encompassed the pathos of the common man he sought to express in his work. The artist recalls his first encounter with bandwallas while leaving his studio in Gahri, New Delhi, when his path was blocked by a wedding procession. The image has stayed with Khanna ever since, and has been a leitmotif in his work for the last half century.

“The syncopated tunes intended for the jollification of the baraat (wedding party), the quotient of assertive maleness and vigour of the accompanying groom’s party, the residual image of the British colonial march past, and sanguine military energy collapsed into a singular image on that warm Delhi afternoon. Positioning himself as a sympathetic spectator and a somewhat humourous narrator, Krishen Khanna has steadily painted the Bandwallah; the heroics of the street have been rendered with a deep humanist sympathy” (G. Sinha, ‘Serenading Lajwanti’, Krishen Khanna: Images in My Time, Ahmedabad, 2007, p. 27).

In the present lot, Khanna portrays two of these musicians in the dense undergrowth of a forest, contrasting their vibrant uniforms, peaked red caps and shiny instruments with their expressionless faces and unusual environs. Without questioning their assignment or location, they belt out the same tunes each day, underlining the ironic intersection of their manual labor and the celebrations that it facilitates.

更多来自 聚焦人像:罗米·兰巴珍藏南亚现代及当代艺术