Kanwal Krishna
Kanwal Krishna Kanwal Krishna

Kanwal Krishna

Kanwal Krishna

Kanwal Krishna

1910 - 1993

Kanwal Krishna

Born in Kamalia in pre-Partition Punjab, Kanwal Krishna lived the life, he said, ‘of a wandering gypsy’.

In the 1950s, several artists began to explore landscape painting as a separate genre in order to establish a modernist language among whom Krishna’s work stood out. Krishna was inspired by the forces of nature as he travelled to forbidden Tibet, Kashmir, Europe, and other places.

In 1945, Krishna and his artist-wife Devayani were invited by the governor of the North West Frontier Province (in present-day Pakistan), Sir George Cunningham, to travel across Afghanistan, Khyber Pass, Swat valley, and surrounding areas, to paint its landscape and life.

In Tibet, Krishna was one of the earliest observers, and the first Indian painter who was allowed special permission to attend the coronation of the Dalai Lama, an event he painted and filmed. His drawings from that encounter were some of the earliest visual references of life and landscapes of this protected Shangrila.

Krishna’s paintings reflect his mastery over perspective and depth through strange angles and curvature observed in the outdoor environment. The textures and tones achieved by his sensitive brushwork and a restrained palette are mesmerising. A master printmaker as well, Krishna would influence a generation of printmakers in India with his technique and style. Krishna was associated with several art groups such as the Delhi Silpi Chakra and Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi.

‘Kanwal and Devayani shared their destiny and love for Norway with Sri Ananda although they never met and lived through different times. Kari Christensen and Knud Larsen similarly shared their curiosity for Tibet and India with Kanwal and Devayani…’



dag exhibitions

‘Indian Landscapes: The Changing Horizon’

DAG, New Delhi, 2012

‘Indian Divine: Gods & Goddesses in 19th and 20th Century Modern Art’

DAG, New Delhi, Mumbai, 2014

‘Indian Portraits: The Face of a People’

DAG, Mumbai, 2014

‘India’s French Connection: Indian Artists in France’

DAG, New Delhi, 2018; New York, 2018-19

‘The Fifties Show’

DAG, New Delhi, 2020

‘New Found Lands: The Indian Landscape from Empire to Freedom’

DAG, New York, 2021

notable collections

National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi

Ministry of Defence, New Delhi

Chitrakala Parishath, Bangalore

Hyderabad Museum, Hyderabad

Governor`s House, Bhubaneshwar

R. P. G. Enterprises, Mumbai

Reliance Industries, Mumbai

Duncan House, Kolkata

Göttingen University, Germany 

Lancashire University, U. K.

Ben and Abby Grey Foundation, Los Angeles

archival media

The Sunday Amrita Bazar Patrika

9 December, 1962

Hindustan Times

1 April, 1974


6 May, 1990