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JITISH KALLAT
(B. 1974)
Untitled (Eclipse)- 5
titled 'Untitled (Eclipse) - 5' in English (lower right of right panel); dated and signed '2008 JITISH KALLAT' in English (on the reverse of central panel); dated, signed, titled and inscribed '- 2008 JITISH KALLAT UNTITLED (ECLIPSE) - 5 left to Right - 1' in English (on the stretcher bar of left panel); dated, signed, titled and inscribed ' - 2008 JITISH KALLAT - UNTITLED (ECLIPSE) - 5 Triptych left to Right - 2' in English (on the stretcher bar of central panel); dated, signed, titled and inscribed ' - 2008 JITISH KALLAT UNTITLED (ECLIPSE) - 5 left to Right - 3' in English (on the stretcher bar of right panel)
acrylic on canvas, triptych
each: 229 x 172.6 cm. (90 1/8 x 68 in.)
overall: 229 x 517.8 cm. (90 1/8 x 203 7/8 in.)
Painted in 2008
Provenance
Albion Gallery, London, UK
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Literature
Saatchi Gallery, The Empire Strikes Back: Indian Art Today, exh. cat., London, UK, 2010 (illustrated, pp. 170-171).
Exhibited
London, UK, Saatchi Gallery, The Empire Strikes Back: Indian Art Today, 29 January-8 May 2010.

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Lot Essay

"The contradictions are immense. At once dynamic and dysfunctional, the city is a heady mix of languages, castes, religions, and class difference. Life goes on, precariously balancing [K] affluence and abject poverty, swelling real estate prices and rampant homelessness. Yet, this [K] metropolis becomes the incubator of national culture and progressive thought, producing films, fashion statements, popular music and an array of colourful street vernaculars [K]."
('Jitish Kallat in conversation with Nina Miall', Jitish Kallat: Universal Recipient, exhibition catalogue, Haunch of Venison, 2008, p.49)

A veritable tour de force, Untitled (Eclipse) - 5 depicts a quintessentially metropolitan experience on a grand scale. Using a visual language derived from the city of his birth and characteristic of his oeuvre, Jitish Kallat celebrates Mumbai as a vibrant microcosm. The earlier Dawn Chorus series saw the artist depict images of street urchins but rather than evince any sense of their reduced circumstances, Kallat championed their resilience. Representing the young children who often wait at traffic lights to sell books to commuters the artist seemed to highlight the poignant, enterprising spirit of the city. In common with the Eclipse series, superimposed on the boys' hair are tightly-packed cityscapes symbolizing the physical and psychological burdens forced on them by the tumultuous, bustling metropolis. These city dwellers carry a crumbling cascade of stories on their heads and as such, embody multiple meanings: simultaneously portraits of the city and its inhabitants but also, an attempt to address the universal and classic themes of survival and mortality.

The Universal Recipient series continued Kallat's investigation and celebration of certain characters from his hometown, this time engaging with a different group - security guards. These figures, older now, are the street urchins as adults, portrayed taking their new-found responsibility very seriously via probing gaze and stoic mien in observation of the sprawling Indian megalopolis. Their pensive features seem to encapsulate Kallat's description of them as raconteurs of Mumbai's inner secrets.

Throughout, the artist is consistent in his painterly means of execution and draws upon a Pop-like graphic energy which pulsates out of the pictorial space. Hair is alive with a frenzied, labyrinthine map of people and moving vehicles as if to create a portrait of the extraordinary energy of the city and its vast population. Heads and shoulders dominate the composition and thrust to the forefront of the canvas. Untitled (Eclipse) - 5 here specifically references the epic scale, format and vibrant coloration of a film hoarding:

"Broadly speaking I like my art to softly detonate back all the elements that percolate my system as an artist-citizen. [K] The abstract patches are an absurd combination of a splash, a spillage and a 'hand-painted' drip. The drip alone is carrier of many painterly contradictions [K]. Collectively they carry mixed evocations of bodily fluids [K] and also carry hard-edge elements such as the shape of a house, or teeth on a saw blade.
('Jitish Kallat in conversation with Nina Miall', op. cit., p. 55).

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