Born 1974, Mumbai, India.
Lives and works in Mumbai
Much of my work involves the twin codes of pop and agitprop, addressing some of the classic themes of art, birth, death, survival and the endless narratives of human struggle. The highly populated city of Mumbai, where I live, is almost a theatre where the codes of daily existence are pushed to the extreme and this continually percolates my practice.
Jitish Kallat’s painting and sculpture incorporate modern technology and popular essentials like the photocopy machine. His images evolve out of texts and captions, well-known phrases and popular song titles. The close relationship between words, images, tradition and contemporary symbols, is central to Jitish Kallat’s work. For example. his work may juxtapose the traditional symbol of an elephant with an abstract, photocopied representation of a monument. He describes his large format paintings as “a vast collision of the thumping, claustrophobic, city street part of my project to find ways to register the life I see around me. Cars, buses, scooters, cycles, cats, cows and humans collide and coalesce to form mega- explosions. These optical jerks caused by the high decibel of daily action can also be read as distorted reflections of a city seen on the dented body of an automobile”.
His sculpture of a wrecked car Colidonthus 2007 is typical of Jitish Kallat’s concern with the dynamic pandemonium of urban life in India’s chaotic and crowded cities. A full size version of a car, it grins and leers at the audience. Like a ghost ship thrown up on the crazy shores of a decimated metropolis. It is made from casts of fake bones and skulls, each part meticulously fashioned and then assembled like a three dimensional jigsaw. The association with a museum relic is clear, as if Kallatt is saying to his audience that this where the car should now be consigned. A reminder of an age that is now defunct, as obsolete philosophically and ecologically as the dinosaur in a museum collection.
Jitish Kallat’s second sculpture in Passage to India ll, Hypotenuse 2006, depicts a young boy holding another in his arms who, in turn, clutches a toy dolphin. Based on photographs that Jitish Kallat has taken of street children at traffic lights in Mumbai, where they congregate to try to sell books and toys, the sculpture is a comment upon resilience in the face of urban deprivation. A constant theme in Jitish Kallat’s work. The boy’s feet are embedded in small houses – a symbol for the homeless whose homes are found wherever they rest their feet.