(B. 1974)
Untitled (Eclipse) - 4
titled 'Untitled (Eclipse) - 4' in English (upper left of the left panel); dated, signed and titled '2007-08 Jitish Kallat Untitled (Eclipse) - 4' in English (on the stretcher of each panel)
acrylic on canvas, triptych
each: 275 x 172.6 cm. (108 1/4 x 68 in.)
overall: 275 x 518 cm. (108 1/4 x 203 7/8 in.)
Painted in 2008
Arario Gallery, Beijing, China
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner

Brought to you by

Felix Yip
Felix Yip

Lot Essay

Having graduated from the Sir J.J. School of Art, Mumbai in 1996, Jitish Kallat has gone on to establish himself as one of the leading contemporary artists practicing in India today, forming a distinct style that spans the areas of painting, sculpture, video and photography.

As part of the new generation of artists working after India's economic liberalization in 1991, Kallat's creative body of works were initially influenced by the burst of new imagery that the came with the introduction of cable TV. Speaking on these early influences, Kallat explains, "The fact that around 1991-92 India went from having just two state-run television channels to almost ninety channels within the space of a few months time played a crucial role in defining people's tastes and thoughts. As a young artist actively looking at not just art history but also the general culture, this phenomenon definitely percolated my practice." (in conversation with the artist). Kallat has since continued to reference his interest in mass media as he pieces together old photographs, faxes and photocopies to create a visual collage from which he paints his canvases.

An outstanding example from the series Eclipse, this painting depicts a characteristically metropolitan experience on a grand scale. Representing the young children who often wait at traffic lights to sell books to commuters, the artist seems to highlight the poignant, enterprising spirit of the city. Consistent in his formulaic means of execution and his programmatic approach to the painted surface, here, Kallat draws upon a Pop-like graphic energy that pushes the figures out of the pictorial space. The heads, hair and shoulders are thrust to the front of the picture plane, occupying nearly all of its axis, and this, coupled with the use of a brightly-coloured striated background, means that the subjects literally confront, even embrace the viewer. Their amplified representation, however, allows the viewer the opportunity to examine easily and closely Kallat's painterly style and technique.

The children's features are painted in a manner which draws attention to their facsimile; as if Kallat does not want to individualize each figure into a personality, but to engender each image as a trope and thus he is better situated to express a certain, generic feeling of the city as a whole. Their hair is a painted collage: a frenzied, labyrinthine map of people and moving vehicles, as if to create a portrait of the extraordinary energy of the city of Mumbai and its vast population (of both people and cars). On top of each surface we find passages akin to splatters of paint which, upon close reflection, are meticulously executed, so that Kallat is always reminding us that we are not looking at a portrait or a likeness, but a painted surface. This questions any sense of verisimilitude we, as the viewer, may invest in to the work and its painted subject.

In this painting the artist collapses the picture plane giving the viewer no refuge from his images of urchins and street waifs and relates back to his early references of a film hoarding in epic scale, format and vibrant coloration. As such, Untitled (Eclipse)-4 (Lot 1037) becomes less a group portrait and more a rather taxonomic approach to the semantics and mechanics of his painting as well as part of a jigsaw that attempts to conjure the colour and energy of this vibrant city.


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