Lot 295
  • 295

Jitish Kallat (b.1974)

200,000 - 300,000 USD
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  • Jitish Kallat
  • Sweatopia 1
  • Inscribed 'Sweatopia - 1' upper left and further dated and inscribed ' - 2008 JITISH KALLAT - SWEATOPIA - 1 (Triptych - Left to Right - Right) / 2008 JITISH KALLAT  SWEATOPIA - 1 (triptych  Left to Right - Left) / - 2008 JITISH KALLAT - SWEATOPIA - 1 Triptych (Left to Right - Centre)' on reverse
  • Acrylic on canvas
  • 108 by 204 in. (274.3 by 518.2 cm.) overall
  • Painted in 2008


Acquired from Haunch of Venison, London, May 2008


Zurich, Haunch of Venison, Universal Recipient, 31 May - 2 August 2008

Wolverhampton, Initial Access, Passage to India Part II, 17 March  - 1 August 2009

Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Critical Mass, Contemporary Art from India, 01 June - 08 December 2012


P. Nagy, Universal Recipient, Haunch of Venison, Zurich, 2008, illustrated pp. 26 - 35

Catalogue Note

The artist fragments this image by utilizing diverse painting styles. The faces are painted in monochrome and in high contrast, such that they look like images one could encounter in newspapers. This serves as a comment on the globalized world, where photographs are mass produced and reduced to pixelated images. On the other hand, the clothes are colorful and are depicted in a painterly style with defined shadows, similar to those in comic books. Kallat takes advantage of his artistic liberty in the composition of the hair, which narrates Bombay’s stream of consciousness. Outlined in black paint are animals, people, vehicles and buildings compressed and piled above each other, concentrated in the space of the hair. These arbitrary elements that one could find in any street in Bombay share a single flow, as the hair of people in the foreground blend with the hair of those in the background, flattening the painting overall. In this way, Kallat expresses the uniformity between human beings: though their minds are in different places and their heads turn in erratic directions, these strangers share an urban environment that follows them in their daily life.

The monumental size of the painting conjures images of billboards and the various painting formats echo the idea of graffiti, an implementation of Pop Art. The title Sweatopia 1 suggests a ‘place’ (from the Greek word ‘topia’) permeated with ‘sweat’, a bodily fluid that suggests intimacy, yet evokes a sense of disgust. A feeling of claustrophobia prevails until the viewer notices the refreshing sky, patterned with what looks like rain droplets on a window. The top surface of the crowd is separated from the atmosphere by a yellow and orange jagged line, as though the city wears a single halo that captures the collective energy of its citizens. This painting captures the urban lifestyle and the dialogue between individual and collective experiences in Bombay’s expansive metropolis. One of India’s leading contemporary artists, Jitish Kallat received his BFA in painting from the Sir J.J. School of Art in 1996 and was bestowed the “Young Achiever Award” in 2001. Born and brought up in the teeming city of Bombay, Kallat portrays a crowd of ‘Bombay-ites’ receding into the background of this triptych. The protagonist on the right side of the foreground is large in scale, suggesting he is close in proximity to the beholder. Though the people in this scene are congested, they are neither engaged with one another, nor do they acknowledge the viewer. They are caught off guard as they go about their day, creating an overarching sense of anonymity. Except for the laughing, turbaned man, their candid expressions are banal; they squint their eyes at the sunlight and seem distracted by the myriad sights and sounds around them.