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Krishna Hawlaji Ara

 (1914 - 1985)
Krishna Hawlaji Ara was active/lived in Asia, India.  Krishna Ara is known for nude figure and still-life painting.

Krishna Hawlaji Ara

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for Krishna Hawlaji Ara
Born near Hyderabad, India, in 1914, Krishnaji Howlaji Ara lived a diverse life.  He was an orphan by age 10 and worked as a car cleaner for a Japanese company.  He finally found his way to art in the late 1930s, and landed his first solo show by 1942 at the Bombay Art Society, despite lacking the formal training of his peers.

Ara became a member of the revolutionary Progressive Artist's Group in 1948, a group of six foundational artists who wanted to "look at the world from an Indian way, not a British way," according to Sayed Haider Raza, another member, as quoted in The New York Times. 

Ara's most notable exhibitions include the Progressive Artists Group's inaugural show, at the Bombay Art Society in 1948, along with several other shows by the group in Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Baroda, from 1949 to 1955.  His work was in prominent solo shows at Mumbai's Taj Gallery at the Pundole Art Gallery, in Mumbai.  Posthumously, his work has shown at museums and galleries all over New Delhi and Mumbai, and in cities around the world.

He won numerous awards throughout his life, including the Governor's Prize at the Bombay Art Society's annual exhibition in 1944, and the Gold Medal for the Bombay Art Society in 1952.  He was also heavily involved during the early years of India's Lalit Kala Akademi, having served on their judging and selection committee.  He passed away in Mumbai in 1985.

Christies, Mumbai

Biography from Auctionata
Krishna Hawalaji Ara (1914-1985) was born in Bolarum near Hyderabad.  He first worked as a car washer before he addressed himself to art at the end of the 1930s.  Self-taught, he began to paint landscapes and still lifes.

His first solo exhibition already took place in 1942 at the Bombay Art Society.  In 1948 Ara became a member of the Progressive Artist's Group, a revolutionary artist association which art wanted to show an Indian, not British perspective.

In the 1950s, Ara, whose preferred techniques were watercolor and gouache, began to paint voluminous female nudes.

Biography from Sutlej Art Gallery
Born in 1913, Krishnaji Howlaji Ara did not receive any formal schooling or education in the field of fine arts. The son of a chauffeur, Ara spent the initial years of his life in his hometown of Bolarum, near Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh, and only moved to Mumbai at the age of seven. Once there, he first made a living cleaning cars, and later joined the Salt Satyagraha movement that was led by Mahatma Gandhi during India's Independence struggle. He later worked as a car cleaner for a Japanese firm.  He was only encouraged to paint as a profession later by an art critic from the Times of India, Rudy von Leyden, who saw the work he used to do in his spare time.

A founder member of the Progressive Artists' Group in Mumbai, K H Ara, in the critic Nissim Ezekiel's words, was "the first contemporary Indian painter to meticulously use the female nude as a subject, not straying from the limits of naturalism, unlike colleagues like F N Souza. His work was rooted in the delight of ingenuity, focusing on the female nude, still life and human figure studies."
Ara was also part of the managing committee of the Bombay Art Society in its fledgling years, and served on the selection and judging committee of the Lalit Kala Academy. He was also associated with the Artist's Center at the heart of Mumbai's art district, where he spent the bulk of his time in his later years.

KH Ara held his first solo show in 1942, at the Chetana Restaurant in Bombay.  Since then he has had several other one man and group shows, including many with the Progressive Artists Group from 1948 to 1955 in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Baroda and Calcutta. He had three more solo exhibitions in Mumbai in 1952, 1954 and 1960, and took part in the inaugural show of the Pundole Art Gallery in 1963. In the same year, he exhibited his 'Black Nude' series in Mumbai. In 1955, Ara held shows of his work in Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria. His paintings have also been shown in galleries in West Germany, Russia and Japan.

Amongst Ara's many honours is the prestigious Governor's Award for painting in 1944, and the Gold Medal from the Bombay Art Society for his canvas 'Two Jugs' in 1952.
Krishnaji Howlaji Ara passed away in Mumbai in 1985.

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About  Krishna Hawlaji Ara

Born:  1914 - Bolarum, India
Died:   1985
Known for:  nude figure and still-life painting