Supported by Nature Morte & Saat Saath Arts
Jitish Kallat is at the forefront of India's contemporary art movement and and his work has been shown extensively across India and the world.
Covering Letter is a piece of historical correspondence beamed onto a curtain of traversable dry-fog; a brief letter written by M. K. Gandhi to Adolf Hitler in 1939 urging him to reconsider his violent means. The short letter reads like a seven-line haiku, its intent tightly held within a wrap of ambivalence. There is a sense of perplexity in the way that Gandhi words his address; as the principal proponent of peace from a historical moment, he greets Hitler, one of the most violent individuals of that era, as a friend. Like many of Gandhi’s gestures and his life experiments, this piece of correspondence seems like an open letter destined to travel beyond its delivery date and intended recipient - a letter written to anyone, anytime, anywhere.
It is in line with some of his earlier works such as ‘Public Notice’ (2003), 'Public Notice 2' (2007), and 'Public Notice 3' (2010) where a historic speech becomes a device for contemplation.
Jitish Kallat is one of the most prominent figures of contemporary Indian Art. Born in 1974, he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting from the Sir Jamsetjee Jeejebhoy School of Art in Mumbai in 1996.
Kallat’s vast oeuvre spanning painting, sculpture, photography, drawing and installation, reveals a deep involvement with the city of Mumbai and derives much of its visual language from his immediate urban environment. His subject matter has been described previously as ‘the dirty, old, recycled and patched-together fabric of urban India’. Wider concerns include India’s attempts to negotiate its entry into a globalised economy, addressing housing and transportation crises, city planning, caste and communal tensions, and government accountability.
Many of Kallat’s works focus on Mumbai’s downtrodden or dispossessed inhabitants, though treating them in a bold, colourful and highly graphic manner. Kallat traditionally mounts his paintings on bronze sculptures that are re-created from the wall adornments found on the 120-year-old Victoria Terminus train station in the centre of Mumbai.
His solo exhibitions at museums include institutions such as the Art Institute of Chicago, Bhau Daji Lad Museum (Mumbai), the Ian Potter Museum of Art (Melbourne), CSMVS Museum (Mumbai), the San Jose Museum of Art and Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sydney).
He was the curator and artistic director of Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014. Kallat lives and works in Mumbai.