Tuesday, August 7, 2012

One of India’s top creative couples

Jitish Kallat addresses through his works classic themes of suffering and survival, juxtaposed with the endless narratives of acute human struggle. His oeuvre reflects a deeper and continual involvement with the city of his birth, Mumbai, drawing his vivacious visual language largely from the immediate milieu.

The artist focuses on its dispossessed or downtrodden inhabitants, though treated in a bold, colorful, highly graphic manner. His wider concerns comprise modern India's sustained efforts to negotiate its entry into a globalized economy, and addressing impediments to it - housing and transportation crises, haphazard city planning, caste and communal equations, and government accountability, or apparent lack of it.

Reena Kallat’s signature motif involves employing the rubber stamp, an approved symbol of Indian officialdom. Another recurrent theme in her oeuvre is maps, as she looks to explore the dichotomy between stricter border controls and increased globalization.

They had a two-person show while in college, and it proved to be the first of many such fruitful collaborations. The real bond between the artist-couple is the way the two pursue the collective challenges of being an artist, is constantly urging and pushing each other to do better; it’s about energizing each other.

Well, contrast works, and there can be no better example than that of the successful careers the two artists have charted out – individually and in each other’s company. Describing the bond between the two, The Mint columnist, Shoba Narayan, wrote in an essay: “Jitish and Reena are charming and polite—to me and to each other. We talk about their working relationship, about whether they discuss their works during the creation.

“I am a bit more chatty in the sequence of creation,” says Jitish. Just when I think that Reena is proper and polite, she gives me pause. “He might discuss every crappy idea with me while I am more selective about what I discuss with him,” she says. The couple burst out laughing…”

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