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Born in India Made in England: Autobiography of a Painter
Autobiography of a Painter
- Balraj Khanna witnessed as a child in the Punjab, the cataclysmic Partition of India in 1947, when Hindus and Muslims who had lived peacefully together for generations, succumbed to blood-soaked enmity. At school and university a love of English language and culture took him to London in the bitter winter of 1962, where Goanese painter, Francis Newton Souza, warnedof the 'pitiless prejudice, indifference and scorn' he would meet. In London Balraj's career as a painter blossomed. He met the critic and novelist Mulk Raj Anand; the painter Avanash Chandra; and the distinguished Keeper of the Indian Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, W.G. Archer, who in 1968 arranged for the 28-year old Balraj to be given a solo exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Balraj joined The Indian Painters Collective and met diplomat, Salman Haidar, who promoted Indian artists and arranged exhibitions. Balraj lectured on Indian Art in universities: Cambridge, Manchester, Oxford, the Royal College of Art, St Martin's, SOAS, and exhibited at the Hayward Gallery, Serpentine Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum, Brighton and Hove Museum and Bradford Museum. In 1971-72 he became a Foreign Correspondent during the India-Pakistan War. He met and married Francine and lived in France. Balraj's novel, Nation of Fools, was awarded the Royal Society of Literature's Winifred Holtby Prize for a First novel in 1984. Until then best known for his painting, Born in India Made in England tells his story 'warts and all': in the first part evoking the atmosphere of the India of his youth; in the second part describing with telling observation England and the English he encountered in the 1960s. As Francis Souza succinctly reflected at the time: 'Godfuck racist place full of pansies'.
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