Artist Avinash Chandra was born in Simla, India, in 1931. As a child, Chandra knew he was born to paint and in 1947 he enrolled at the Delhi Polytechnic Art School. His father had wanted him to study Engineering and for six months Chandra’s family were unaware he was studying art. However, excelling in his chosen field, Chandra graduated in 1951 with a first class degree. He then joined the staff, teaching fine art to undergraduates.
Chandra’s formal artistic training taught him little about Indian art and more about the ‘alien’ art of Europe and the west. As a young painter, he began painting landscapes which were highly acclaimed. They expressed nostalgia for the trees and landscape of the Simla hills using vibrant colours.
At twenty-one years old, Chandra was the youngest artist to be granted a solo exhibition by the progressive artist’s movement, the ‘Delhi Silpi Chakra’. One of his first paintings, ‘Trees’, was bought by the then newly established Museum of Modern Art in Delhi, and was awarded first prize in the First National Exhibition of Indian Art at the Lalit Kala Akademi in 1955. However, after three successful exhibitions and relative fame, Chandra grew dissatisfied and felt limited by the artistic scope in Delhi. Yearning for artistic liberation, in 1956 Chandra and his then artist wife, Prem Lata (d. 1975), left Delhi and moved to the UK, following an art scholarship awarded to Lata to study at the Central School of Art in London.