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Artist of the Day | Reena Saini Kallat

Reena Saini Kallat - Hyphenated Lives (Saker-Swallow)

Reena Saini Kallat

Hyphenated Lives (Saker-Swallow) Gouache, charcoal, ink and electric wire on handmade paper 53 × 68 cm


Reena Saini Kallat is an artist wholly absorbed by the never-ending cycle of nature, and the fragility of the human condition in its hands. All of her works, whether installations, photographs, paintings or sculptures, reflect the constant shifts between building and collapsing movements, birth, death and rebirth and defeat and resurgence. There seems no greater inspiration in her works than the undefeatable and un-fatigable 'prakriti,' or nature. A force that is constantly creating and destroying, never resting as one world replaces another, only to end eventually itself.

Reena shows us how these dualities are functioning all the time, and how we are blind to them, by either illustrating the transience of our consumerist culture or by showing us how important it is that givens like food and shelter not be taken for granted.

Kallat gives the mundane a surreal twist, when she paints cars and houses in filled balloons, or towering structures made out of slices of bread faced by androgynous and fantastic creatures. "Balloons are fragile so putting these aspirational things inside them is a way of putting across how ephemeral are the objects we most chase," she says.

Babies and children also feature provocatively in several of Kallat's works. All these works touch on motifs found throughout her art - the cycle of life, and images presented in a highly exotic and unusual manner.

Kallat graduated from the Sir J.J. School of Art in 1996, and belongs to the new generation of Indian artists who have successfully reinterpreted and given a new facet to abstract art. In one of her more recent installations, a part of the 2002 Kala Ghoda Art Fest, she used beach sand to create seven uterine forms on the floor representative of the seven islands that came together to make the city of Mumbai. This piece, called the 'Seven Faces of Dust,' once again represents the transitory nature of all the things we long for, and of our momentary lives as well - it is to be effaced after the showing, and the sand returned to the beach.

Reena also trained as a Bharatanatyam dancer for eight years, but as it turned out, painting was her calling and foremost love. She recalls her first showing - that of some poster colours she painted when she was in class IX. Kallat held her fist professional solo show called ' Orchards of Homegrown Secrets' in Mumbai, 1998, and has since held many more exhibitions of her work. Kallat has also been the recipient of several notable honours, including the Gladstone Solomon Award for painting.

She lives an works in Mumbai. courtesy of,

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