Jitish Kallat on his forthcoming exhibition in New Delhi.
One of the young dazzlers of the Indian art world, Jitish Kallat, brings his latest works to New Delhi after a gap of six years. Kallat has, yet again, given creative connotations to his constant muse, Mumbai, the city of his birth and education, through a range of thought-filled works in the show “Chlorophyll Park”. Through the image of this megapolis, a talented Kallat strives to bring on to the pieces varied urban experiences, “some real, some ideal”, exploring thereby a desire to “experience the uncanny within the quotidian”. In an e-mail interview, Kallat, a product of JJ School of Art, elaborates on what will be on view at the exhibition plus delving into why Mumbai exerts a pull on him artistically. Excerpts:
What is the focus of your latest work?
My forthcoming show at Nature Morte gallery in New Delhi reflects several of my current preoccupations. For instance, the single image that has most engaged me in the last several months is the image of the tiny plantlet that manages to grow even on dry, lifeless concrete on the edge of a pavement or on a city wall as if it were engaged in a solitary revolt or rebellion, as if it were delivering a whisper from the natural world.
This image of resilience and reassurance has become my site of reflection in several of the recent pieces. This is linked in some ways to my photo-pieces titled “Chlorophyll Park (Mutatis Mutanids)” — which will be part of the show — where generic street scenes appear to have been overrun by an artificial mutant grass that was initially grown and photographed in the studio. A sculpture titled “Syzygy” will be seen alongside a light-box with a lunar cycle formed by rotis. Yet another sculpture titled “Annexation” is an oversized black lead kerosene stove that carries around a hundred images on it; each of these are culled from the porch of the Victoria Terminus building in Mumbai where the decorative architectural friezes carry several images of animals devouring each other or clinging onto food. This is not unlike the daily grind of survival that this porch witnesses everyday.
What is the medium of the show?
There will be sculptural pieces, photo-works, paintings and drawings.
Artistically, what has attracted you to Mumbai that it has long become the subject of your canvas?
I am drawn to images around me that help me understand and also question my assumptions about life. I might step close and photograph a tiny plant on a concrete pavement or the bulging pocket of a person I meet on a street or a dent on a car… these simple images have a symbolic density that uncover meanings and narratives when you prolong your gaze.
Chlorophyll Park; Nature Morte Gallery new Delhi, february 5 to March 3. Monday to Saturday (10.a.m. to 6 p.m.)
Bottomline: I am drawn to images that help me understand and also question my assumptions about life