“Each paint­ing has a his­tory and a des­tiny”

India Today - - SIMPLY CHENNAI - By Karuna John

A griev­ing mother mourns her dead son, she holds him ten­derly and points a fin­ger to his body. “Why did they do this to him”, her pursed lips seem to ask. Pi­eta, a, oil- on- can­vas work by one of In­dia’s cel­e­brated painters, Kr­ishen Khanna, 88, in 1978, will be a part of the Sotheby’s Mod­ern and Con­tem­po­rary South Asian Art Auc­tion to be held in Lon­don on June 11. Pi­eta, has been of­fered for the first time at the auc­tion, for an es­ti­mate price of £ 100,000- 150,000. The fig­u­ra­tive work of Mary hold­ing Je­sus’ body is, painted in blue, grey, pur­ple pink and earth hues. The scene, as it were, can be vi­su­alised across the globe where war and strife fuel such tragic scenes even now. “The griev­ing mother has ev­ery right to ques­tion the death of her son,” says Khanna, who con­tin­ues to paint daily at his base­ment stu­dio in his art- filled Gur­gaon home. “This is the sec­ond or third pi­eta that I was paint­ing then. Each one is dif­fer­ent,” he says. Khanna still keeps one paint­ing from the se­ries at his home, “Each paint­ing has a his­tory be­hind it and a des­tiny.” This Pi­eta was painted in the US on re­quest. Un­for­tu­nately, once com­pleted the paint­ing got less than a tepid re­sponse from those who com­mis­sioned it. “I don’t like that kind or re­ponse, es­pe­cially to a pic­ture that is mean­ing­ful,” says the artist. “The man said that ‘ she looks very sad and ag­gres­sive’, I said yes she is an ag­grieved mother and has ev­ery rea­son to be that,” he re­calls the con­ver­sa­tion as if it was yes­ter­day. The cou­ple was prob­a­bly wor­ried about the paint­ing not ‘ fit­ting’ in their sit­ting room. Once, back home in In­dia, Khanna wrote to them and of­fered to ac­cept his paint­ing back if they did not want it. They re­turned it and Mum­bai- based busi­ness­man Dilip De bought it. The des­tiny of the 1978 Pi­eta has now taken it to Sothe­bys but Khanna is not too in­ter­ested in price it fetches. He, him­self is yet to at­tend an auc­tion. He just wants it to go to some­one who ap­pre­ci­ates the paint­ing for what it is. “I don’t want it to go to some­one who puts it in a strong­box, say­ing it is worth so much money and will fetch more. It is not a share script,” says Khanna. Ac­cord­ing to him, a paint­ing de­vel­ops a re­la­tion­ship with the per­son who ac­quires it. “Even when a paint­ing is away I still think it is mine. Some­one gave me money and took it, but it is mine,” he says. “I am un­happy if a paint­ing does not do well, if it is not liked. I would want it back, not dis­carded.” The Pi­eta , ir­re­spec­tive of the fi­nal bid, con­tin­ues its des­tined jour­ney.

M ZHAZO / www. in­di­a­to­day­im­ages. com

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