Issue 79

Jitish Kallat

The cover art for this issue of Artkrush is a detail of Collidonthus by Jitish Kallat, a 2007 mixed-media work that evokes urban mayhem with the skeletal body of an automobile. The ghostly sculpture will be exhibited in Passage to India, which opens on March 15 at Initial Access in Wolverhampton, UK.

Born in Mumbai, India, in 1974, Kallat attended the Sir J. J. School of Art in his hometown and received his BFA in 1996. Less than a year later, he began exhibiting at one of India's oldest contemporary art spaces, Gallery Chemould. Venues the world over have shown his work, including Bose Pacia Modern in New York, Bangalore's Sakshi Gallery, Art Rotterdam, the Walsh Gallery in Chicago, the Tate Modern, and the Havana Biennial in 2000 — the same year that he was short-listed for Sotheby's Prize for Contemporary Indian Art.

Kallat's practice has rapidly evolved in terms of theme, material, and genre. His early paintings are densely layered with pigment, photocopies, and photographs, introducing autobiographical images in a rough, graffiti-like aesthetic. He presented the politically charged The Lie of the Land in Chicago in 2004. The series draws connections between the World Trade Center attacks and a speech on world religions given by Swami Vivekananda in 1893, which is written in melted adhesive and mounted on a mirrored surface. Public Notice (Last Speech Made by Gandhi) features another great oratory of Indian history, with the great peace activist's final address spelled out in bone. His installations and heavily worked canvases are as immense and inexplicable as the city that inspired them; his 2006 series Rickshawpolis presents abstract bursts of modern transportation on canvas, flanked by sculptures of bronze elephants, gargoyles, and other creatures. Kallat's portfolio mirrors the tense diversity of his urban upbringing in India and inextricably links his work with the wider world. - Lauren McKee

Jitish Kallat
Collindonthus, 2007
Mixed media
404 x 172.7 x 152.3 cm
© Jitish Kallat, 2008
Courtesy Initial Access, Wolverhampton, UK
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