Jitish Kallat

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Jitish Kallat
Jitsh Kallat at the Experimenter Curator's Hub 2015
Born July 14, 1974
Mumbai, India
Occupation Artist

Jitish Kallat (born 1974) is an Indian contemporary artist.[1] He currently lives and works in Mumbai, India.[2] Kallat's work includes painting, photography, collage, sculptures, installations and multimedia works.[3] He was the artistic director of the second edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, held in Fort Kochi in 2014.[4] Kallat is currently represented by Nature Morte -New Delhi, Chemould Prescott Road- Mumbai, ARNDT - Berlin and Galerie Daniel Templon in France and Belgium and he currently sits on the Board of Trustees of the India Foundation for the Arts.[5] Kallat is married to artist Reena Saini Kallat.[6]


Jitish Kallat was born in 1974 in Mumbai, India.[2] In 1996 he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting from the Sir Jamsetjee Jeejebhoy School of Art in Mumbai.[7]


Having received his BFA in painting in 1996, Kallat had his debut solo exhibition titled “PTO” at Chemould Prescott Road. His large-format paintings and drawings already had in them the themes that would recur throughout his work until today. With the self at the centre of an unfolding narrative, these paintings were connected to ideas of time, death, cycles of life, references to the celestial, and familial ancestry. It was only in the next three or four years that an image of the city, otherwise seen at the margins of his paintings, began to take centre stage. In those days Kallat referred to the city street as his university, often carrying within it pointers to the perennial themes of life that have remained a subtext to his work that have taken form in diverse media. "Other indigenous painters before him had flirted with international styles such as Pop (most notably Jyothi Bhatt and Bhupen Khakhar ( and the mix and match of Postmodernism (namely Gulammohammed Sheikh and Atul Dodiya), but no one had turned the textures and surfaces of urban India into the fracture of painting quite so successfully," noted artist, gallerist, and co-director of Nature Morte, Peter Nagy in an essay titled "Jitish Kallat: 21st Century Boy". "Parts of Kallat's canvases appear as if they had been left outdoors during the monsoon season, other sections seem blistered and scorched by the unrelenting sun. The works usually appear much older than they actually are, aged as soon as they are born, not unlike all manner of objects and people through the subcontinent. The distressed and tortured surfaces create a field in which to submerge images while the images themselves are processed and mutilated in a variety of ways. All of which combine to create works that both participate intimately with the artist's mise en scene and comment upon the unique idiosyncrasies of his home. Degradation, bastardisation, the destruction and retrieval of culture and history became Kallat's subjects through the astute handling of both subject matter and technique.[8]

Kallat’s work has also developed in response to museum collections in the case of projects such as "Field Notes, (Tomorrow was here yesterday) (2011)" at the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mumbai, for which he was shortlisted for The Skoda Prize in 2012,[9] or "Circa," at the Ian Potter Museum in Melbourne. Both these projects had several of his recurring preoccupations find their form and structure in conversation with the museum viewed both as an infrastructure of signs but equally a field of stimuli and meaning.

Often works which begin with a private narrative or an autobiographical impulse might be materialized in a form where the self remains invisible within the space of the artwork and could often be traced back by observing several bodies of work alongside each other. The theme of time, for instance, could be rendered as date in works such as Public Notice 3, where two historical moments are overlayed like a palimpsest or in works such as Epilogue, every moon that his father saw in his lifetime becomes a labyrinth of fullness and emptiness with the image of the moon morphing with the form of a meal.

Kallat is known for working with a variety of media, including painting, large-scale sculpture installations, photography, and video art.[10] He employs a bold and vivid visual language that references both Asian and European artistic traditions, along with popular advertising imagery that fuels urban consumerism. Kallat regularly exploits images and materials chanced upon around Mumbai's sprawling metropolis, affording his works an inherent spontaneity and a handcrafted aesthetic. For instance, in 2014 the artist unveiled a series of large-scale sculptures made out of resin that were inspired by the urban environment of Mumbai.[11] He unites these various media through themes that endure within Kallat's work, such as the relationship between the individual and the masses. He references his own personal experiences and those of Mumbai's other inhabitants. His work speaks of both the self and the collective, fluctuating between intimacy and monumentality, and characterized by contrasting themes of pain, hope and survival.[12]

Kallat's paintings address the problem of painting in an age dominated by mass media, writes art dealer and collector, Amrita Jhaveri, in A Guide to 101 Modern & Contemporary Indian Artists. "Using images from newspapers and magazines, advertising billboards, wallpaper and graffiti, his works are richly layered and replete with metaphor. Kallat has reinvented the painted surface to mimic the appearance of a television still or a computer monitor, complete with its surface striations and auras.[13]"


Much of Kallat’s work has been based on his encounters with the multi-sensory environment of Bombay/Mumbai, as well as the economic, political and historical events that have contributed to its making, wrote art historian Chaitanya Sambrani. "His practice as painter has frequently highlighted a concern he shares with the founders of Indian modernism in visual and literary art. Kallat has couched his references to the “underdog” in a hyper-pop language in order to signal the ironies that attend the lives of migrant workers and menial labourers in India’s megacities: people met on “second class” train compartments, people whose labour continues to keep afloat the nation’s aspirations. In his installation and video practice, he has often revisited archival texts and museum displays with a view to probing the production and dissemination of knowledge."

In her essay, "The Mumbai Syndrome," Patricia Ellis vouches for Kallat's engagement with painting as a subversively radical activity. "His approach has little to do with representation, abstraction, or formalism, but rather a total mimesis of concept," His paintings are "not localised images constrained within borders, complications of space and perception, or even platitudes of self-defined invention. They're conceived as liminal gaps: peripheral mediations, metaphysical platforms of interconnection." [14]

Public Notice

For the first in what would be termed as his Public Notice series, Kallat revisited the famous speech made by Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru before the stroke of midnight on August 14, 1947, to commemorate India's Independence against the British. Often recalled as the "Tryst with Destiny" speech, the historic address spoke of India's awakening into freedom after centuries of colonialism. Kallat hand-rendered the iconic text using rubber adhesive on five large acrylic mirrors before setting them aflame, thereby incinerating the words and producing mangled reflections that changed in relation to the viewer's position against the burnt glass. The 2003 piece was a political statement Kallat was making against the carnage of the Godhra Riots in February 2002. "The words are cremated... much as the content of the speech itself was distorted by the way the nation has conducted itself in the last six decades," Kallat has said about the work.[15]

Public Notice 2

Created in 2007, Kallat's Public Notice 2 is a large-scale display of letters formed out of 4,479 pieces of fibreglass bones installed on shelves against a background of saturated turmeric yellow reproducing the 1000-word speech given by Mahatma Gandhi on March 11, 1930 at the Sabarmati Ashram by the banks of the River Sabarmati in Ahmedabad a day before he along with 78 of his followers began the historic Dandi March to protest against the British-imposed tax on salt during which the virtues of Non-Violence were repeatedly insisted on by Gandhi. "The act of rehearsing a text from modern history and meditating on its relevance today is charged with a revisionary historicism: Kallat simultaneously places the text within its particular historical moment and reinvigorates it for present purposes," art historian Chaitanya Sambrani wrote in an essay titled Of Bones and Salt: Jitish Kallat's Public Notice 2. "The first activity, that of historical situation, locates the text securely in the past; the second asks us to reconsider it so as to glean an insight into present exigences and possibilities for the future." The work, according to Sambrani, represents "evidence of the past, scientifically gathered, enumerated, classified and sorted into significant units."[16]

Public Notice 3

In 2010 the artist installed his large-scale site-specific LED installation, Public Notice 3, at the Art Institute of Chicago.[17] This installation was Kallat's first major exhibition at a US institution.[18] The artwork links two disparate yet connected historical events, the First World Parliaments of Religions, held in September 1893, and the much later terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, in September 2001. Kallat's 2004 piece Detergent could be seen as the prototype for Public Notice 3, a text-based work in which Swami Vivekananda's speech was rendered in the same way as in Public Notice. According to Madhuvanti Ghose, "Finally, Kallat's Detergent came 'home' when as Public Notice 3 it opened on September 11, 2010, at the Art Insittute of Chicago. Swami Vivekananda's evocative words calling for universal toleration and the end of bigotry and religious fanaticism were presented on the Woman's Board Grand Staircase, a space approximating the stages of the two temporary halls in which he originally spoke: the Hall of Columbus, where his opening address had been delivered; and the Hall of Washington-an area now largely occupied by the museum's Ryerson Library-where Vivekananda spok on other occasions during the World's Parliament of Religions.[19]"

Solo Exhibitions[edit]

Source: Nature Morte, New Delhi


Public Notice 2, presented by Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation at Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

The Infinite Episode, Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris


The Hour of the Day of the Month of the Season, Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris

Epilogue, San Jose Museum of Art, USA


Circa, Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne

Chlorophyll Park, Nature Morte, New Delhi


Fieldnotes: Tomorrow was Here Yesterday, Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mumbai

Stations of a Pause, Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai


Public Notice 3, Art Institute of Chicago

Likewise, ARNDT Berlin

The Astronomy of the Subway, Haunch of Venison, London


Aquasaurus, Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Sydney

Skinside Outside, Arario Gallery, Seoul

Public Notice-2, Bodhi Art, Singapore

Universal Recipient, Haunch of Venison, Zurich


Sweatopia, Chemould Prescott Road and Bodhi Art

Unclaimed Baggage, Albion, London

365 Lives, Arario Gallery, Beijing

Rickshawpolis–3, Gallery Barry Keldoulis, Sydney


Rickshawpolis–2, Spazio Piazza Sempione, Milan


Rickshawpolis–1, Nature Morte, New Delhi

Panic Acid, Bodhi Art, Singapore

Humiliation Tax, Gallery Chemould, Mumbai


The Lie of the Land, Walsh Gallery, Chicago


First Information Report, Bose Pacia Modern, New York


Milk Route, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi

General Essential, Sakshi Gallery, Bangalore


Ibid., Gallery Chemould, Mumbai


Private limited–I, Bose Pacia Modern, New York

Private limited–II, Apparao Gallery, Chennai


Apostrophe, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi


P.T.O., Gallery Chemould and Prithvi Gallery, Mumbai

Select Group Exhibitions[edit]


After Midnight: Indian Modernism To Contemporary India 1947/1997, Queens Museum of Art, New York

After Utopia, Singapore Art Museum

Obsession, Maison Particulière, Brussels

Postdate: Photography And Inherited History In India, San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose CA


Busan Biennale 2014 - Inhabiting the World, Busan[20]

An Appetite for Painting, Contemporary Painting 2000–2014, The Museum of Contemporary Art Oslo, Oslo

St. Moritz Art Masters, St. Moritz


ARSENALE 2012, The First Kiev International Biennale of Art, Kiev

India: Art Now, ARKEN Museum of Modern Art, Ishøj

Critical Mass: Contemporary Art From India, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv

Indian Highway, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing


Curitiba Biennial, Curitiba

Ideas of the Sublime, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi

Aesthetic Bind: Citizen Artist: Forms of Address, Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai

Palindrome: Jitish Kallat & Gilbert and George, ARNDT, Singapore


Car Fetish. I drive, therefore I am, Museum Tinguely, Basel

Maximum India, Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, Washington D.C.

Watercolour, Tate Britain, London

Indian Highway IV, Musée d’Art Contemporain, Lyon, France


Metropolis, The New Art Gallery Walsall, UK

Finding India - Art for the New Century, MOCA Taipei

Skulptur i Pilane, Pilane Burial Grounds, Tjorn, Sweden

Indian Highway, Herning Kunstmuseum, Denmark

Urban Manners 2, SESC Pompeia, São Paulo

The Empire Strikes Back, Saatchi Gallery, London


India Contemporary, Gemeente Museum Hague,

Mythologies, Haunch of Venison, London

Chalo! India: A New Era of Indian Art, National Museum, Seoul and Essl Museum, Vienna

Art Foundation Mallorca Collection, Centro Cultural Andratx, CCA Andratx

Passage to India Part II, Initial Access Frank Cohen Collection, Wolverhampton

Indian Highway, Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo

Indian Narrative in the 21st Century: Between Memory and History, Casa Asia Center, Madrid


The 3rd Guangzhou Triennial, Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, Guangdong

Indian Highway, Serpentine Gallery, London

Die Tropen, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin

India Moderna, Institut Valencia d’Art Modern, Valencia

Chalo! India: A New Era of Indian Art, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo


Soft Power, Zendai Museum of Art, Shanghai

Urban Manners, Hangar Bicocca, Milan

Hungry God, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto

Aftershock, The Sainsbury Center for Visual Arts, Norwich

Horn Please, Kunstmuseum, Bern

Thermocline of Art – New Asian Waves, ZKM Museum, Karlsruhe, Germany


The 6th Gwangju Biennale, Korea

The 5th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art,[21] Brisbane, Australia

Passages, Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels

Lille 3000, Lille, France

Hungry God: Indian Contemporary Art, Arario Gallery, Beijing and the Busan Museum, Korea

L’Art à la Plage, Galerie Enrico Navarra, Ramatuelle, France


First Pocheon Asian Art Triennale, Pocheon, Korea

Indian Summer, Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris

The Artist Lives and Works in Baroda/Bombay/Calcutta/Mysore/ Rotterdam/Trivandrum, House of World Cultures, Berlin


Zoom! Art in Contemporary India, Culturgest, Lisbon


SubTerrain: Artists Dig the Contemporary, House of World Cultures, Berlin

Pictorial Transformations, National Art Gallery, Malaysia

Crossing generations: diVERGE, National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai

Indians+Cowboys, 4A Center for Contemporary Art, Sydney

The Tree from the Seed, Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Høvikodden, Norway

Hard Copy, a two-person show with Reena Saini Kallat, Gallery 88, Calcutta


Under Construction, The Japan Foundation, Asia Center, Tokyo

India – Contemporary Art from Northeastern Private Collection, Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, New Jersey


Century City, Tate Modern, London

Indian Painting, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney


7th Havana Biennial, Havana, Cuba


The First Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale, Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan


Art of the World 1998, Passage de Retz, Paris, France


Innenseite, Projektgruppe Stoffwechsel, University of Kassel, Germany

50 Years of Art in Mumbai, National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai

Select Collections[edit]

Kallat's work can be found in a number of public and private collections including:


  1. ^ http://www.arndtberlin.com/website/artist_1066
  2. ^ a b "Artist's Profile - Jitish Killat", The Saatchi Gallery, Retrieved 16 September 2014.
  3. ^ http://www.artsome.co/Jitish_Kallat
  4. ^ http://kochimuzirisbiennale.org/jitish-kallat-is-the-curator-for-kochi-muziris-biennale-2014/
  5. ^ "Trustees Patrons Founder", India Institute for the Arts, Retrieved 16 September 2014.
  6. ^ Rangachari Shah, Gayatri. "Couples Fuel India's Vibrant Art Scene", The New York Times, Retrieved 16 September 2014.
  7. ^ "Jitish Kallat - Artist Bio", Aicon Gallery, Retrieved 16 September 2014.
  8. ^ Jitish Kallat, Universal Recipient, published by Haunch of Venison, 2008, Zurich
  9. ^ "The Skoda Prize 2012", Skoda, Retrieved 16 September 2014.
  10. ^ "Arndt - Jitish Kallat", Arndt Gallery, Retrieved 16 September 2014.
  11. ^ Griffiths, Sarah. "Now that's a bone shaker', The Daily Mail, Retrieved 16 September 2014.
  12. ^ http://www.art-interview.com/Issue_015/interview_Kallat_Jitish.html
  13. ^ Page 118, A Guide to Modern & Contemporary Indian Artists, Amrita Jhaveri, India Book House, 2005, Mumbai, India, ISBN 81-7508-423-5
  14. ^ Jitish Kallat, Universal Recipient, Haunch of Venison, Zurich, 2008
  15. ^ From Vivekananda to Kallat, Madhuvanti Ghose, from Public Notice 3 published by The Art Institute of Chicago, April 2011
  16. ^ Jitish Kallat, Public Notice 2, published by Art Gallery of New South Wales and Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, 2015
  17. ^ "Public Notice 3", The Art Institute of Chicago, Retrieved 16 September 2014.
  18. ^ "Jitish Kallat: Public Notice 3", The Art Institute of Chicago, Retrieved 16 September 2014.
  19. ^ 'From Vivekananda to Kallat, Madhuvanti Ghose, from Public Notice 3 published by The Art Institute of Chicago, April 2011
  20. ^ http://www.biennialfoundation.org/biennials/busan-biennale/
  21. ^ http://www.aaa.org.hk › Collection

External links[edit]