Jitish Kallat working on a drawing, 2020. Courtesy of the artist
May 4, 2020

A Room with a View: Jitish Kallat on his isolation experience

"A Room with a View" is a new editorial initiative which aims to illuminate the positive and creative potential of time spent in isolation. The seventh contribution comes from Indian artist Jitish Kallat
Words by Jitish Kallat

Dear My Art Guides Readers,

The inaugural ten weeks of the new decade have thrown several unexpected curveballs at us as species. With a tiny microscopic entity invading our lives and sending us all indoors, it feels as if the planet is “calling us out” for all our past actions. Perhaps this is a test to see if we can co-operate and re-calibrate our relationship with our surroundings and the planet.

I returned back from the US on 14th March soon after the opening of my solo exhibition titled Return to Sender at the Frist Art Museum in Nashville, Tennessee. The exhibition opened just a day prior to the announcement of health emergency in the United States. My arrival in India was just a few days prior to the enforcement of a national lockdown. Let me a share with all of you a link to this exhibition where some of the inquiries seem to connect with some of the urgencies of the current moment.

In the last few weeks I haven’t made any art in the conventional sense. However since I’m able to access my alternate studio across the street from my home, I’m able to draw a little. Let me share these two image-notations. At one level that are drawings but they are also playful “re-arrangements”. I think they allowed me a degree of creative nonconformity and free-association as water-colour along with pencil, plaster, paper and pastels begin to forge relationships. This is by no means a complete work, in fact I may never aim to complete it. At best I may revisit and re-arrange them again.

Jitish Kallat, Drawing n.1, 2020. Courtesy of the artist
Jitish Kallat, Drawing n.2, 2020. Courtesy of the artist

As artists one of the things we do is pattern recognition, at times celebrating the inconsequential. So when I received the email from my dear friend Mara, my instinct was to use this as a pretext to verify some recurring instincts from my daily walks and jogs since March 14th, circling in the backyard of my alternate studio. This morning I decided to verify my intuitions about the ‘time-speed-distance’ of this circle.

Measurements from the Action (between 7:45 AM to 8:00 AM IST / Sunday / 19th April 2020):

1)   One Circle is 90 steps (+1/-1)
2)   60 seconds (+1/-1) to complete one circle –
while walking with cellphone in hand (verified 5 times)
3)   30 seconds (+1/-1) to complete one circle –
while walking with cellphone in hand (verified 3 times)

I’m sending you this documentation so that I can also share with you the ‘sounds’ and 90 seconds of ‘backyard footage’ from Mumbai.

Much warmth,
Jitish Kallat

Jitish Kallat, Jogging, 2020. Courtesy of the artist
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