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.
Additional sources: The New York Times