Following the closing of his critically acclaimed retrospective at National Gallery of Modern Art (New Delhi), Indian artist Jitish Kallat presents his first solo exhibition in Belgium at Templon Brussels. With a complex body of works in mixed media (drawing, collage, sculpture, photography), the show brings forth several new dimensions to some of his long-standing artistic inquiries. Covariance delves into ideas of time, sustenance, sleep, vision and perception along with a compelling interplay of scales and proximities, and evocations of the celestial and the cosmological, preoccupations that have recurred across Kallat’s wide-ranging work.
A guideline for the exhibition, the new suite of meditative works on paper titled Wind Study - Hilbert Curve. represents ‘ transcripts derived by eavesdropping on the silent conversation between wind and fire”.The drawings derive their form from the Hilbert Curves, continuous fractal space-filling curves first described by the German mathematician in 1891. To create them, Kallat ritualistically overlays it one small line at a time, setting aflame each one with an inflammable liquid. The movement of wind at the moment of combustion determines the direction in which the fumes leave their marks on the paper registering invisible atmospheric flows.
At the center of the exhibition are two intricately detailed sculptures titled Covariance (Sacred Geometry) that from a distance resemble a rock, an anthill, a fallen meteorite or an ancient fossile. Carved on its surface are a number of small eyes modeled on different species, from mammals and birds to reptiles and fish. Covariance holds viewers in a vigilant, thought provoking gaze, posing perplexing questions through the many eyes looking out in all directions.
In the large photographic triptych titled Sightings Gen-Pap-D23M6Y2016 a close up of a papaya’s surface and its inverse begin to appear like telescopic snapshots of cosmic supernova explosions, contemplating the macro as manifesting within the micro.
Kallat’s interest in astronomical architecture led him to reference Chankillo, the ancient Peruvian solar observatory with thirteen mounds forming a toothed horizon, while creating Aequus, a mysterious cosmic dormitory wherein the species surrender scale in a state of sleep merging with the undulating terrain. The artist then pursues his stimulating reflection on the dissimular and a possibly inverted geometry of life with Antidote, a playful and contemplative sculpture of a bat sleeping effortlessly upturned while pulling against gravity.
The exhibition course ends up with a room dedicated to Tetralemma (threefold postulates) a series of drawings folded as if a solitary game of exquisite corpse (cadavre exquis) was underway. They gather indistinct impulses, working studies, private ruminations and discarded references as if the artist was offering the viewer a gaze on his “artistic dilemmas’’.