FEMALE ARTIST INDIA
Delhi-born and Mumbai-based artist Reena Saini Kallat (1973), wife of auction star Jitish Kallat, presents Silt of Seasons at Chemould Prescott Road in Mumbai until 17 January 2009. Her chosen media have ranged from bonded marble to fabric and this love for experimentation has given her portfolio an enviable range, which in turn has made her one of Indian contemporary art’s more successful exports says Time Out Mumbai.
Her work has been included in significant survey shows including Chalo! India: A New Era of Indian Art and Mori Art Museum, Japan 2008, India Moderna in Valencia Spain 2008. As an established and internationally-collected artist it is curious that
Saini Kallat is showing a set of works that have been shown in galleries abroad but will be seen for the first time in India (except for “White Heat” and a sewing machine made of bonded marble, which is a new piece).
The exhibition has video works, sculptures and a set of standing works that hover between sculpture and painting. They seem to be large portraits until a closer look reveals them to be made of rubber stamps. Each stamp has a name which is from actual lists of missing persons across the country. See it from the back and the tops of the stamps stand like a battalion of pawns from countless chess sets. “I wanted to make all those names that have been forgotten be remembered again,” she said.
Over the years since her debut in 1998 Kallat’s body of work has mutated and now
Ten years after her first solo show, Reena Saini Kallat almost seems surprised by her own evolution. “One never thought of making art that was political or critical when one was young but I wonder now whether it’s possible to not let that happen,” she said.
Past interests included
In her debut in 1998, she explored the family.
For her 2004 show Black Flute and Other Stories, Saini Kallat painted a world of myths that made pointed references to contemporary demons.
In 2006, Saini Kallat represented colonial history through the works in Rainbow of Refuse.
In another series of similar works, she recreates designs from Agra’s Taj Mahal with rubber stamps. The stamps bear names of labourers who worked on the monument. “It was a discovery for me when I found them in archives because we’ve grown up with textbooks telling us the labourers were nameless and their hands were chopped off but actually they had the right to inscribe their names on what they created,” she said.
Naming and stamping and its associations of identity and control are recurring motifs in this exhibition
Names taken from the peace petition appear on a 10-part photographic work that looks at the idea of motherland and the shifting line of control in Kashmir. They are stamped in red ink, which makes some names look like they’re the mark of something rejected by a government officer or a bleeding bruise. The video work also shows names being written in sand and then being blown away. In another set of photographs, an hourglass has in it grains of rice with names of farmers who have committed suicide written on them. The touristy frivolity of writing names on rice contrasts sharply with the grimness of the farmers’ fate.
- Chemould Prescott Road gallery exhibition Silt of Seasons images, artist bio
- Reena Kallat on Saatchi Online for biography, images, reviews
- Other dealers include Walsh Gallery Chicago, Bodhi Art Gallery Mumbai and Singapore, Nature Morte New Delhi, Sakshi Gallery Bangalore,
- More reviews NBC5 Chicago