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Jitish Kallat (B. 1974)
Jitish Kallat (B. 1974)

Covering Letter

Jitish Kallat (B. 1974)
Covering Letter
signed and dated '2004 Jitish Kallat' (on the reverse)
mixed media on canvas
72 x 48 7/8in. (182.9 x 121.6cm.)
Executed in 2004
Jitish Kallat: Richshawpolis, Exhibition Catalogue, Nature Morte, New Delhi, 2005, illustrated, p. 8.
Jitsh Kallat, Exhibition Catalogue, Walsh Gallery, Chicago, 2004, illustrated, unpaginated.
Chicago, Walsh Gallery, The Lie of the Land, 3 - 25 September 2004.
Mumbai, Gallery Chemould, Humiliation Tax, 8 - 25 February 2005.

Lot Essay

Jitish Kallat resurrects the strewn debris of mass media, piecing together old photographs, faxes and photocopies to create a visual collage from which he paints his canvases. Splashing words like truncated slogans across his paintings, Kallat exposes the idiosyncrasies of mechanical reproduction by revealing the grainy resolutions and cropped compositions of his news clippings and internet printouts. Following the aesthetic sensibilities of Pop Art, Kallat has collapsed the picture plane giving his viewer no refuge from his images of child laborers, urchins and street waifs. His subaltern subject matter, flickers between the genial imagery of the everyday billboard and the violence of the agit-prop posters as it confronts its audience.
According to Ranjit Hoskote, Kallat's series Covering Letter, which includes this work among six others, was first debuted at the Walsh Gallery in Chicago and "registers a breakthrough for the artist on many levels. At the most immediate visual level, he broke through the color limits he had set for himself, from his blues and reds through oranges and pinks, to more complex and enriched chromatics. This was connected with the opening up of his finger to demotic-style rendering." (Exhibition catalogue, Walsh Gallery). One of his most frequently cited series', works from Covering Letter were selected for inclusion in the seminal exhibition,Indian Summer, at the L'Ecole des Beaux Arts Superieure, Paris. In this particular work, a barking figure, immersed in an arm chair, yells virulently at what seems to be an invisible television. The iconography of the couch potato, ineffective and lazy, has long been linked to the apathy and inaction of the American public, and possibly be drawing a clever caricature of the efforts of the US addressing international political issues.

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