Jitish Kallat explains how his art could be a commentary for the current crises

The artiste opens up about his creative process amid the quarantine
Jitish Kallat talks about his quarantine work routines
Jitish Kallat talks about his quarantine work routines

Not unsurprisingly contemporary artist Jitish Kallat’s most prolific pieces could act as relevant commentary for some of our most acute global crises. For the recent edition of the Indulge Time Pass the artist and curator who has showcased his work around the world including London’s Tate modern and Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art, tells host Kaveree Bamzai that he is exploring the possibilities of virtual art rooms as an interesting new medium, especially in the current scenario. 

Bamzai brings up his 2010 piece Baggage Claim which is almost prophetic, especially as it successfully captures how the migrant crisis has unraveled in the country. “Baggage Claim was painted close to a decade ago and one also feels that it's often the artwork that tells you the meaning behind itself as the circumstances change around them. I think it’s been a real call for us to understand that this sort of skin encapsulated organism that we saw ourselves to be, it’s not the real self. Quarantine Day, again, from 2002 seems to play back certain things. When I look at this painting, there’s this heightened force or energy that emerges, and it’s the artwork that’s the commentator or the provocateur. It's the one that asks questions of you, in a way,” Kallat remarks. 

Yesterday the New York Gallery Launched Kallat’s solo Viewing Room exhibition and today Delhi’s Nature Morte launched Viewing Room with Circadian Study drawings and the artist also talked about the emergence of newer virtual facets in the art world. “It’s an interesting development that galleries have thought of virtual spaces as something that can be re-thought and re-energised. I realised that that is a medium in itself, it’s not just a webpage, it’s something that allows you to reflect another dimension of your work, it’s externalised. This viewing room had some of that tenor in it, if you log in later today when it's live, you can probably experience it,” Kallat says. 

Bamzai brings up Kallat’s recent work which has a lot of focus on fundamentals and water colours, and how he draws influences from the simplest forms of nature. “I returned from the US in mid-March and settled myself into a self quarantine in the studio across my home for 14 days. One of my daily rituals would be watering plants on the terrace, the Gulmohur in the studio backyard was shedding, I began by drawing some of these. I didn’t think much about it, I would just draw them and it became slightly more deliberate after that, I would look forward to the 8 to 10 am period, that was the time I would spend on the terrace,” Kallat says.

The artist also opened up about how he feels about the global shutdown and how it has affected his creative process. “I think it’s been a period of reflection for all of us, as we saw an unforeseen world emerge in a period of weeks. There are times in human history when transitions happen in years and decades, there are other times when transitions happen in weeks. It’s not just that we’ve stayed home, but the world has transitioned dramatically in the weeks that we have stayed home. It leads to certain reflections about one’s own life and the world. The studio where I was quarantined, is not my main studio, but this space has allowed me to remain in a sort of creative cycle. Clearly what began with the Circadian studies has extended into other ideas which can take a while and I don’t want to hurry them. But a lot has gestated within me, it’s not directly to do with the pandemic, it’s the circumstances which force long arc reflections which can hopefully become something else,” Kallat revealed.

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