Modern and Contemporary Art from India
February 25, 2011 through September 4, 2011, San Jose Museum of Art
  SCRIBE, 2002
Oil on canvas
37 ½ x 28 ½ inches
Private collection, San Francisco
Photo: © Christie’s Images Limited 2010

Krishen Khanna
Born 1925, Lyalpur (now Faislabad, Pakistan)
Lives and works in New Delhi

In this monochromatic portrait of a scribe, Krishen Khanna paid homage to his grandfather, a manuscript copyist whom he never met. Largely self-taught, Khanna described himself as a “scribbler.” Throughout his career, he portrayed and affirmed the dignity of ordinary working-class people. He avoided abstraction because he believed “the person or the individual is being neglected—the person in a particular situation who is influenced by the conditions around.” 1 Instead, he endeavored to “emphasize the human beings caught up in their particular condition.”2

1 Krishen Khanna, quoted in “Krishen Khanna Artist Profile,”
2 Ibid.