Mixed media on linen
108 x 720 in./ 274 x 1829 cm. (in 12 parts)
Jitish Kallat’s expansive polyptych Ellipsis has developed organically over the years wherein various images hovering between the abstract and the barely recognisable, create a free and hybrid exploratory aesthetic. In recent years his painterly practice has intersected more directly with his varying artistic inquiries and intellectual pursuits to produce a radical linguistic renewal. Taking the form of a deeply speculative and exploratory abstraction, indistinct impulses, private ruminations and discarded references are summoned and memorialized as pictorial assemblies. A meticulously hand-drawn graph lies underneath the imagery, which are replete with signs and a web-work of free associations. The Canberra-based art historian Chaitanya Sambrani writes: “Ellipsis brings together many of his ongoing concerns at architectural scale, becoming a kind of hyper-enlarged and extended graphic diary where the artist lingers on the spaces between utterances in a state of fevered reverie.” Abstract gestures seem to crystallize and acquire perceptible form challenging the viewer with a compelling tension, ambiguity and irresolution. Imagery that evoke celestial orbits, botanical, sub-oceanic and geological formations reveal the signatures of generative growth, evolution and entropy.
The seating within the gallery space has been altered by Kallat to assume the shape of the two hands of the Doomsday Clock, a conceptual clock that has been maintained and updated annually by members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board since 1947. It uses the analogy of the countdown to midnight– symbolising the apocalypse – to denounce the threats hanging over humanity. This symbolic seating, highlighting the ‘two minute to midnight’ setting of the clock as of 2019 serves as a platform for possible interactions offering an altered perspective to the themes enshrined in this enormous painting.