Artist Jitish Kallat's 10 most memorable works | Hindustan Times
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Artist Jitish Kallat's 10 most memorable works

Updated On Feb 02, 2023 10:41 PM IST

Jitish Kallat, 49, has used rotis to represent the moon and a fogscreen to play with ideas of hate and harmony, creating a vivid and unique visual vocabulary that deploys the most everyday materials to tell his stories. “The medium or material always follows the initial intuition or impulse… there is a slow metamorphosis from the intangible to the tangible,” he says. As Kallat marks his 25th year as an artist, take a look at Riddhi Doshi's list of his 10 most memorable projects.

1 / 10
Modus Vivendi (1000 people – 1000 Homes), 2000: In this self-portrait, a work of mixed media on canvas, Kallat appears as a swaggering, bespectacled juggler of heart and brain. The painting is an exploration of selfhood in the city of Mumbai, where he grew up and lives. The individual, lost in the multitudes, wanders in a state of perpetual disorientation, as reflected in the work. The radiating streaks of red, orange and green, reminiscent of thermal imagery, were achieved by texturing the canvas with layers of paint or canvas and then peeling off some parts to attain the desired visual effect.(Courtesy: Jitish Kallat) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Feb 02, 2023 10:41 PM IST

Modus Vivendi (1000 people – 1000 Homes), 2000: In this self-portrait, a work of mixed media on canvas, Kallat appears as a swaggering, bespectacled juggler of heart and brain. The painting is an exploration of selfhood in the city of Mumbai, where he grew up and lives. The individual, lost in the multitudes, wanders in a state of perpetual disorientation, as reflected in the work. The radiating streaks of red, orange and green, reminiscent of thermal imagery, were achieved by texturing the canvas with layers of paint or canvas and then peeling off some parts to attain the desired visual effect.(Courtesy: Jitish Kallat)

2 / 10
Covering Letter, 2012: Projected onto a fog screen, this installation showcases a letter written by Mahatma Gandhi to Adolf Hitler a few weeks before Germany invaded Poland in 1939, in effect starting World War 2. In his letter, Gandhi made an urgent appeal for peace. He began his note with the words “Dear Friend”, even though he was addressing one of the most violent people in history. As the words ascend through a film of mist, the audience can walk through it, inhabiting and dissipating the text. The title comes from the idea that Gandhi’s letter, which is sadly always relevant, acts as a “covering letter” to the endless resumé of human violence.(Courtesy: Jitish Kallat) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Feb 02, 2023 10:41 PM IST

Covering Letter, 2012: Projected onto a fog screen, this installation showcases a letter written by Mahatma Gandhi to Adolf Hitler a few weeks before Germany invaded Poland in 1939, in effect starting World War 2. In his letter, Gandhi made an urgent appeal for peace. He began his note with the words “Dear Friend”, even though he was addressing one of the most violent people in history. As the words ascend through a film of mist, the audience can walk through it, inhabiting and dissipating the text. The title comes from the idea that Gandhi’s letter, which is sadly always relevant, acts as a “covering letter” to the endless resumé of human violence.(Courtesy: Jitish Kallat)

3 / 10
Public Notice 3, 2010: This installation was erected at the grand staircase of the Art Institute of Chicago, where Swami Vivekananda delivered his groundbreaking speech at the World’s Parliament of Religions in 1893. The speech, about Hinduism and religious tolerance, was delivered exactly 108 years before the 9/11 attacks on New York, which would make that date synonymous with terror. Public Notice 3, created using LED bulbs, wires and rubber, illuminated Vivekananda’s words on the risers of the staircase in five colors — green, blue yellow, orange and red, the colors of the post-9/11 homeland security alerts denoting terror-threat levels.(Courtesy: Jitish Kallat) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Feb 02, 2023 10:41 PM IST

Public Notice 3, 2010: This installation was erected at the grand staircase of the Art Institute of Chicago, where Swami Vivekananda delivered his groundbreaking speech at the World’s Parliament of Religions in 1893. The speech, about Hinduism and religious tolerance, was delivered exactly 108 years before the 9/11 attacks on New York, which would make that date synonymous with terror. Public Notice 3, created using LED bulbs, wires and rubber, illuminated Vivekananda’s words on the risers of the staircase in five colors — green, blue yellow, orange and red, the colors of the post-9/11 homeland security alerts denoting terror-threat levels.(Courtesy: Jitish Kallat)

4 / 10
Epilogue, 2010-11: In this work, created with pigment print on archival paper, Kallat builds an ode to his late father, KS Kutty, by representing the 22,889 moons of his lifetime using rotis. These “lunar rotis” are a recurring motif in Kallat’s work, representing life in its most essential components — daily bread, routine — even as those connect with a shared, eternally recurring celestial phenomenon. The lone moon at the end of the display is from the night of December 1, 1998, the day of Kallat’s father’s death.(Courtesy: Jitish Kallat) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Feb 02, 2023 10:41 PM IST

Epilogue, 2010-11: In this work, created with pigment print on archival paper, Kallat builds an ode to his late father, KS Kutty, by representing the 22,889 moons of his lifetime using rotis. These “lunar rotis” are a recurring motif in Kallat’s work, representing life in its most essential components — daily bread, routine — even as those connect with a shared, eternally recurring celestial phenomenon. The lone moon at the end of the display is from the night of December 1, 1998, the day of Kallat’s father’s death.(Courtesy: Jitish Kallat)

5 / 10
Rain Study (The Hour of the Day of the Month of the Season), 2016-18: This series of work of graphite and acrylic epoxy on paper consists of drawings that resemble star fields and other astronomical imagery. They were created by exposing the paper briefly to rain, then overlaying it with fast-drying paint. Each work bears the letters BC and a number denoting the duration for which it was exposed to the rain, measured in breath cycles of the artist.(Courtesy: Jitish Kallat) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Feb 02, 2023 10:41 PM IST

Rain Study (The Hour of the Day of the Month of the Season), 2016-18: This series of work of graphite and acrylic epoxy on paper consists of drawings that resemble star fields and other astronomical imagery. They were created by exposing the paper briefly to rain, then overlaying it with fast-drying paint. Each work bears the letters BC and a number denoting the duration for which it was exposed to the rain, measured in breath cycles of the artist.(Courtesy: Jitish Kallat)

6 / 10
Sightings, 2017: This suite of lenticular prints resembles telescopic snapshots of distant cosmic phenomena, but they’re really close-up views of the surfaces of fruit. Each print integrates images of the fruit as our eyes perceive it, with its chromatic opposite — an image made up of the colors that the fruit surface absorbs and which are invisible to the human eye. As a viewer changes their position with respect to the photo-piece, these images begin to, in a sense, reveal their opposites, and one can discern the peel of an orange or a peach.(Courtesy: Jitish Kallat) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Feb 02, 2023 10:41 PM IST

Sightings, 2017: This suite of lenticular prints resembles telescopic snapshots of distant cosmic phenomena, but they’re really close-up views of the surfaces of fruit. Each print integrates images of the fruit as our eyes perceive it, with its chromatic opposite — an image made up of the colors that the fruit surface absorbs and which are invisible to the human eye. As a viewer changes their position with respect to the photo-piece, these images begin to, in a sense, reveal their opposites, and one can discern the peel of an orange or a peach.(Courtesy: Jitish Kallat)

7 / 10
Causal Loop (Tomorrow Was Here Yesterday), 2017: This 100m-long permanent video installation, displayed like a scroll suspended from the ceiling, zigzags across five floors of the MixC mall in Shenzhen. A fishing village of just 30,000 until as recently as the late 1970s, Shenzhen is now one of the largest ports and manufacturing and IT hubs in China. The text on the installation appears as if wrought by a Chinese calligrapher, alternating in English and Hanzi, one being erased as another takes shape. The script reads, “A scribe travelled back in time to witness the much-discussed transformation in a glorious, ancient city that had rapidly grown prosperous. While in the city he became its mayor, motivating the residents to transform their city, the very changes that would inspire him to travel back in time.”(Courtesy: Jitish Kallat) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Feb 02, 2023 10:41 PM IST

Causal Loop (Tomorrow Was Here Yesterday), 2017: This 100m-long permanent video installation, displayed like a scroll suspended from the ceiling, zigzags across five floors of the MixC mall in Shenzhen. A fishing village of just 30,000 until as recently as the late 1970s, Shenzhen is now one of the largest ports and manufacturing and IT hubs in China. The text on the installation appears as if wrought by a Chinese calligrapher, alternating in English and Hanzi, one being erased as another takes shape. The script reads, “A scribe travelled back in time to witness the much-discussed transformation in a glorious, ancient city that had rapidly grown prosperous. While in the city he became its mayor, motivating the residents to transform their city, the very changes that would inspire him to travel back in time.”(Courtesy: Jitish Kallat)

8 / 10
Covering Letter (Terranum Nuncius), 2018-20: This large installation consists of 116 multi-scopic prints on plexiglass integrated with LED lighting, speakers and video projections, all of which come together to showcase sounds and images of life on Earth. The concept draws from the Golden Records sent out into the universe on the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 NASA space probes in 1977. The idea with those records was to give extraterrestrial life forms a sense of the most precious aspects of life on Earth (music, nature, rain). The Latin title of the art work flips the mission. Terranum Nuncius means Earthly Messenger, with the work serving as a reminder that we should try not to lose sight of what we hold dear.(Courtesy: Jitish Kallat) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Feb 02, 2023 10:41 PM IST

Covering Letter (Terranum Nuncius), 2018-20: This large installation consists of 116 multi-scopic prints on plexiglass integrated with LED lighting, speakers and video projections, all of which come together to showcase sounds and images of life on Earth. The concept draws from the Golden Records sent out into the universe on the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 NASA space probes in 1977. The idea with those records was to give extraterrestrial life forms a sense of the most precious aspects of life on Earth (music, nature, rain). The Latin title of the art work flips the mission. Terranum Nuncius means Earthly Messenger, with the work serving as a reminder that we should try not to lose sight of what we hold dear.(Courtesy: Jitish Kallat)

9 / 10
Wind Study (Hilbert Curve), 2017: This work derives its form from Hilbert Curves, continuous, space-filling curves widely used in computer science while working with 2D images and named after mathematician David Hilbert. Wind Study was made using burnt adhesive, aquarelle pencil and graphite on paper, with the burnt adhesive forming a single curling line that extends across the work unbroken. One bit at a time, sections were doused in a flammable liquid and set aflame. As the adhesive transitioned from liquid to semi-solid to dark fumes, it was also shaped by the movement of the wind at the time, trapping a moment, in essence, for as long as the work survives.(Courtesy: Jitish Kallat) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Feb 02, 2023 10:41 PM IST

Wind Study (Hilbert Curve), 2017: This work derives its form from Hilbert Curves, continuous, space-filling curves widely used in computer science while working with 2D images and named after mathematician David Hilbert. Wind Study was made using burnt adhesive, aquarelle pencil and graphite on paper, with the burnt adhesive forming a single curling line that extends across the work unbroken. One bit at a time, sections were doused in a flammable liquid and set aflame. As the adhesive transitioned from liquid to semi-solid to dark fumes, it was also shaped by the movement of the wind at the time, trapping a moment, in essence, for as long as the work survives.(Courtesy: Jitish Kallat)

10 / 10
Postulates from a Restless Radius, 2021: Using acrylic, gesso, lacquer, charcoal, and watercolor pencil on linen, this work draws its shape from the conic Albers projection of the Earth. With a hand-drawn graph beneath the imagery, the work begins as an unstable, cross-sectional grid in pencil that opens up the globe on a flat plane. In place of planetary geography. “I see them as transcripts of the conversation between wind and fire and an exploratory abstraction of forms that suggest signatures of growth and entropy,” Kallat says. A different way of seeing the world, then, and the disorder and randomness it contains.(Courtesy: Jitish Kallat) expand-icon View Photos in a new improved layout
Updated on Feb 02, 2023 10:41 PM IST

Postulates from a Restless Radius, 2021: Using acrylic, gesso, lacquer, charcoal, and watercolor pencil on linen, this work draws its shape from the conic Albers projection of the Earth. With a hand-drawn graph beneath the imagery, the work begins as an unstable, cross-sectional grid in pencil that opens up the globe on a flat plane. In place of planetary geography. “I see them as transcripts of the conversation between wind and fire and an exploratory abstraction of forms that suggest signatures of growth and entropy,” Kallat says. A different way of seeing the world, then, and the disorder and randomness it contains.(Courtesy: Jitish Kallat)

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