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Artist of the Day | Jitish Kallat

Jitish Kallat



Mixed media on linen

108 x 720 in. (in 12 parts)


Jitish Kallat was born in 1974 in Mumbai, the city where he continues to live and work. Kallat’s works over the last two decades reveal his continued engagement with the ideas of time, sustenance, recursion and historical recall, often interlacing the dense cosmopolis and the distant cosmos. His oeuvre traverses varying focal lengths and time-scales. From close details of the skin of a fruit or the brimming shirt-pocket of a passerby, it might expand to register dense people scapes, or voyage into intergalactic vistas. While some works meditate on the transient present, others invoke the past through citations of momentous historical utterances. Frequently shifting orders of magnitude, Kallat’s works can be said to move interchangeably between meditations on the self, the city–street, the nation and the cosmic horizon, viewing the ephemeral within the context of the perpetual, the everyday in juxtaposition with the historical, the microscopic alongside the telescopic.

Jitish Kallat has exhibited widely at museums and institutions including Tate Modern (London), Martin-Gropius-Bau (Berlin), Gallery of Modern Art (Brisbane), Kunstmuseum (Bern), Serpentine Galleries (London), Mori Art Museum (Tokyo), BOZAR: Centre For Fine Arts (Brussels), Pirelli HangarBicocca (Milan), Busan Museum of Art, Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art (Oslo), ZKM Museum of Contemporary Art (Karlsruhe), Henie Onstad Kunstsenter (Oslo), Arken Museum of Modern Art (Copenhagen), Valencia Institute of Modern Art (Spain), Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), Museum Tinguely (Basel) and the Gemeente Museum (The Hague) among many others. Kallat’s work has been part of the Havana Biennale, Gwangju Biennale, Asia Pacific Triennale, Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale, Asian Art Biennale, Curitiba Biennale, Guangzhou Triennale and the Kiev Biennale among others.

His solo exhibitions at museums include institutions such as the Art Institute of Chicago, Frist Art Museum (Nashville), Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum, the Ian Potter Museum of Art (Melbourne), the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya museum (Mumbai), the San Jose Museum of Art, Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sydney) and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In 2017, the National Gallery of Modern Art (New Delhi) presented a mid-career survey of his work titled Here After Here 1992–2017, curated by Catherine David. Jitish Kallat was the curator and artistic director of Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014.

Jitish Kallat’s expansive polyptych Ellipsis has developed organically over the years wherein various images hovering between the abstract and the barely recognisable, create a free and hybrid exploratory aesthetic. In recent years his painterly practice has intersected more directly with his varying artistic inquiries and intellectual pursuits to produce a radical linguistic renewal. Taking the form of a deeply speculative and exploratory abstraction, indistinct impulses, private ruminations and discarded references are summoned and memorialized as pictorial assemblies. A meticulously hand-drawn graph lies underneath the imagery, which are replete with signs and a web-work of free associations. The Canberra-based art historian Chaitanya Sambrani writes: “Ellipsis brings together many of his ongoing concerns at architectural scale, becoming a kind of hyper-enlarged and extended graphic diary where the artist lingers on the spaces between utterances in a state of fevered reverie.” Abstract gestures seem to crystallize and acquire perceptible form challenging the viewer with a compelling tension, ambiguity and irresolution. Imagery that evoke celestial orbits, botanical, sub-oceanic and geological formations reveal the signatures of generative growth, evolution and entropy.

The seating within the gallery space has been altered by Kallat to assume the shape of the two hands of the Doomsday Clock, a conceptual clock that has been maintained and updated annually by members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board since 1947. It uses the analogy of the countdown to midnight– symbolising the apocalypse – to denounce the threats hanging over humanity. This symbolic seating, highlighting the ‘two minute to midnight’ setting of the clock as of 2019 serves as a platform for possible interactions offering an altered perspective to the themes enshrined in this enormous painting.


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