He was seated next to me at the Dom Perignon sit-down dinner, which was being held at the magnificent Umaid Bhawan Palace at Jodhpur. I complimented him on his speech a few moments ago over cocktails hosted by the Maharaja of Jodhpur, “Baapji” as he is fondly referred to.
“Your speech was heartfelt and I am sure not many absorbed it,” I laughed, not saying it to offend any but there was the intoxicating Dom being served and the clanking of the flutes. Jitish Kallat laughed. We spoke about the screening of his work just before the dinner.
“It was like a trip to the science museum,” was the general consensus.
He laughed again. “I want them to have a degree of intrigue and a sense of confusion when they see the work.” Why, I wondered. “It was actually an immersive video titled Forensic Trail of the Grand Banquet, a journey through an endless cosmic field where all the planetary clusters and stellar formations are made of x-rays, vadas, idlis etc.,” he explained.
“Amazing,” I said while shaking my head in disbelief.
While we ate caviar paani puri for starters and seabass for our main course on two long beautifully set tables, my conversation with Jitish became more riveting.
Overhead were two large screens of the roti in different shapes, almost like the moon that assumes different proportions over the course of the month, I thought.“The piece on the rotis is called the ‘Breath’, cutting and pasting a line of work.
Each of the seven rotis goes through an evolutionary cycle of manifesting from nowhere, slowly evolving into fullness and through a cycle of consumption before they return to emptiness. The roti is morphed with the image of the moon and yet the progression of the roti makes its restless surface evoke skin and body inflating and deflating, expanding and reducing. So I was right about the moon,I thought.”
Whether it was the bursting of the pink champagne against my palate or gazing at the image of the rotis, we talked about thoughts. “Do you think thoughts are borne out of deeper silence, and joy and sorrow?” I asked the artist who at the moment has solo shows at the Ian Potter Museum in Melbourne followed by KunstForum Vienna, Haunch of Venison London and the National Gallery of Indonesia for his point of view.
“Most thoughts are shallow and repetitive; silence is the space where they gain a deeper meaning.” Just like a pause between words saving language from becoming a medley of unending sounds.
He continued, “Joy and sorrow are like fleeting shade and light on an object, the light nor the shade is the object.” Jitish was intense in his ideas and the manifestation of his works comes with real thought laced also with practicality, as he explained his current project to me. He showed me the image of what he was planning to do.
The blue 66-ft long sculpture with directions and destinations with arrows on them came from deeper thoughts of where we come from and where we are headed. And from a practical point that it lay on a road where people will have only seconds to absorb it. Through thoughts and expansion of perceptions, our conversation delved into the direction of emotions and incidents in our lives that are unforgettable.
As I reflected on my meeting with the artist, I couldn’t help but agree that we are what we think.
This jewellery designer provides a ringside view into the complex lives and challenges of achievers.