An intrepid traveller, Devyani Krishna’s journey into art began at a very early age in the city of Indore. Under the patronage of Yashwant Rao Holkar, Indore in the Thirties was a hub of modernist experiments in the ‘international style’. At a time when, among many others, Eckart Muthesius, the German architect, and the Romanian sculptor, Constantin Brancusi, were actively involved in reshaping the aesthetics of Indore, Devyani Krishna began to develop a keen interest in the visual arts. In 1936, to pursue her interest in painting, she joined the J. J. School of Art in Bombay.
She retreated to the Himalayas with fellow artist and partner, Kanwal Krishna, from 1949-52, a period when she painted Tibetan masks, ritual dance and other aspects of Buddhist art. Painted at a time when the Tibetans were facing a crucial disruption of their lives and a loss of autonomy, a protest staged within the genre of a mythological narrative was a way of bringing into the open domain a critical political stand. Her inquiry into the absence of form, where the image would flow as tactile sensations emanating from a bodily engagement with the environment, informed her work throughout her life. Devyani Krishna’s works speak of a strong sense of design with colour harmony and a broad compositional aspect. The series of etchings like Bam Bam Bhole and What and Where are rehearsals of pure spirit in its essential form. The patterns and the swirling lines have a glow that seems to be coming from somewhere within.