Friday Review » Art

Updated: November 9, 2012 19:26 IST

‘Success is overrated’: Jitish Kallat

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The Proust Questionnaire is a fortnightly feature that alternates with the Saturday interview. These questions were most famously answered by the French writer Marcel Proust, whose personality-revealing responses came to define this form of celebrity confession.

Jitish Kallat is our famous export to the international art world. A master of mixed media, Kallat’s visual vocabulary has been developed from his immediate environment and is soaked in wit. Straddling different media such as photography, video, painting and sculpture, Kallat’s art refers to different social sciences. His works are in the permanent collections of Saatchi, Frank Cohen and Museum of Modern Art, L.A. Public Notice 3, a site-specific installation done in 2010 at the Grand Staircase of Art Institute of Chicago is one of the several highlights of his career.

What is your idea of happiness?

Happiness is a continuation of happenings, which are not resisted… someone truly wise said that, was it Deepak Chopra? So I simply try to get out of the way and once I truly back off, happiness flows.

What is your greatest fear?

That I’ll drop wine on the person I’m dining with. That there is such a thing called blindness. That we’re all collaborating to slowly burn our planet and that we rarely acknowledge our diligent contributions to this explosive teamwork.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Chaplin, I’m forever falling or dropping things. When I paint, I drip…

Which living person do you most admire?

Can’t think of one… There are just so many.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Clumsiness, and I can be extremely disorganised. My wardrobe is a wreck and there is always a stampede on my computer desktop.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Leaving aside extreme traits such as cruelty, deception, violence… I’m okay with how people are. Each one of us is entitled to our own unique weirdness; no point wasting time with different people’s internal configurations.

What is your greatest extravagance?

I tend to very easily destroy art pieces that I’ve made, when they don’t work — irrespective of how much time or resources I’ve spent on them. I don’t know if this is extravagance, impulsiveness or intolerance.

What is your favourite journey?

Going round and round Joggers Park with my seven-year-old son Ahaan. The predictability of the path is compensated by the unpredictability of his questions.

Who is your favourite painter?

I think it will have to be Picasso… His brush re-routed the path of art history.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?


On what occasion do you lie?

1st of April.

What do you dislike most about your appearance?

Actually my appearance doesn’t bother me too much; I have to endure it only when in front of a mirror.

Which living person do you most despise?

There is a small pantheon of corrupt politicians, unethical businessmen and cruel terrorists fighting for the top spot.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

May be

What is your greatest regret?

Just as many people are addicted to cigarettes, I ‘used to be’ addicted to regrets. Those days are gone…

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

Who — my family / What — my art

When and where were you happiest?

Right here, right now, sitting in my study and doing this Proust Questionaire with beautiful rain outside.

What is your present state of mind?


How would you like to die?

While sitting with close friends listening to a really funny joke and then drop dead at the height of my laughter.

What is your favourite motto?

The Universe is just as it should be.

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