Raised in the city of Indore in Madhya Pradesh, Krishna was exposed early on to the International Style, an artistic and philosophical movement that focused on both the formal and social aspects of art and design. The Maharaja of Indore, an avid proponent, commissioned German architect Eckart Muthesius to design and furnish his famed Manikh Bagh Palace and collected works by Constantin Brancusi and Le Corbusier. Like many of her generation, Krishna attended the renowned Sir J. J. School of Art in Bombay, graduating in 1936. Later she escaped from urban India and moved with her husband, Kanwal Krishna, to the Himalayas, where they witnessed Tibetan Buddhists’ loss of autonomy to the People’s Republic of China—which in 1951 would wrest control of Tibet and send Buddhists into exile.
Intrigued by the masks used in Tibetan spiritual practices, Devayani began to incorporate them into her work. When Mrs. Grey asked her about the dark aesthetic of Veiled Mask, seen here, she replied: “No, it is not sad. This is a veiled mask. It is very hard to get to know people. This is just a human being behind two masks.” Through such veiled imagery and esoteric symbolism, both Devayani and her husband subtly conveyed their response to the tragedies unfolding around them.