Balraj Khanna’s paintings look at first like an ideal celebration of high summer. They all seem to hover on the walls, and the floating sensation continues within most of the canvases, where motley arrays of objects dangle weightlessly in space. These forms, swaying and often gently colliding as they festoon the surfaces of his pictures seem reminiscent of the painted kite displays, which delighted his eye as a child in the Punjab. Although he moved to England over forty years ago in 1962, Khanna keeps returning in his imagination to the Punjab. He is possessed by memories of the visual stimuli that made him a painter, and settling in London served only to intensify these boyhood revelations.
His images are not simply as souvenirs of the Punjab. His art owes as much to Klee or Miro as it does to Indian tradition. Arriving at an idiosyncratic fusion of east and west, he conjures an elusive world where kites hang cheek by jowl with other, far less easily identifiable companions. In 1999, his novel Nation of Fools (1984) was chosen as one of the top 200 books since 1950. It is set against the backdrop of post-1947 resettlement of refugee families in East Punjab.
Khanna’s newest novel Indian Magic is the story of Ravi Mehra, a new arrival to England in the 60s who finds the country a lot less welcoming than he was expecting. His previous novel, The Mists of Simla was published by HopeRoad an e-publishing house.
Now Khanna is celebrating more than 50 years as an artist with a major retrospective in Wales
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