Krishen Khanna was the first Indian artist to be awarded the traveling fellowship from the John D Rockefeller III Council of Economics and Cultural affairs in 1962. Upward Thrust was painted after Khanna had decided to travel to the Far East, visiting countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Japan. Khanna was particularly influenced by the ancient art of Suni-e practised by Zen Buddhists in Japan around AD1330. Upward Thrust takes its stylistic core from Suni-e work though rendered on canvas rather than rice paper. Khanna has created an abstract maze of smooth boulders, shapes and shadows that flow over the canvas.