Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The banker and the artist

Krishen Khanna was working with the Grindlays Bank in Mumbai, when he came in contact with an artist group of friends, and later became a part of the Progressive Arts Group. Largely a self-taught artist, he had strong ideas of his own what he wanted to paint and what he did not. He moonlighted for a long time, working weekdays at the Bank and painting on the weekends and in the evenings, before deciding to quit the Bank, and became a full time artist.

Untitled, Oil on canvas, by Krishen Khanna

He painted about whatever affected him: The partition of India that displaced human lives like rag dolls on a humongous scale; the band-wallahs or musicians who walked with the Baraatis, or the wedding guests, faceless men whom the guests would not spare a second glance at; the chai-dhaba the small tea-shop, where they were all young artists together: M F Hussia, F. N. Souza, S. H. Raza, Akbar Padamsee and he himself, where they drank gallons of tea, and talked of everything.

The last bite, Oil on canvas, by Krishen Khanna

Untitled by Krishen Khanna

Each of Krishen Khanna's works told a story. There was another reason I took a special interest in his art! My first job was as a banker (State Bank of India) and I always was an artist within as well, and I knew you could do many things at the same time, and at times you made choices. I was intrigued recently, to come across several stories outside India, of bankers-cum or bankers-turned artists. Obviously they interested me and I am sharing some of them here:

William Savage made his decision to turn into an artists when his finance firm Babcock & Brown closed shop. Before that he was a nattily dressed artist rather than a hungry, paint splattered one. He was in San Francisco, had being doing water colours, and had just sold his first painting, and there was hope. So when Babock & Brown closed down, he dived into full time art.


Bridge cafe by William Savage
Marko Remec joined Morgan Stanley after business school and was a banker for 25 years before turning full time sculptor.

For this work on a New York street, he combined steel dome safety mirrors and utility poles, to make a statement on urban paranoia and narcissism.

He had painted in college too, and was always an artist, as well as a banker.


"You are not the boss of me": Tree totem by Marko Remec

Martie Datu worked at a multinational bank and her father's investment firm, but now her work station looks very different. It is full of images from her childhood, and of happy children straddling her present background of skyscrapers, metros and urban parks.


Martie Datu's current work station

Evidently, for those of you straddling two boats or even three boats, it is fine; do what is right for you: you can take the plunge whenever.

Or keep managing a heady mix!

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