A solo exhibition of internationally acclaimed Indian artist Reena Saini Kallat will open at Mumbai's Chemould Prescott Road this week. The exhibit uses the motifs of the border, the territory and the map to point to broad historical narratives as well and humankind's imprint on geography.
Titled 'Blind Spots', the exhibition will run from November 30 to December 28.
Reena's practice spans drawing, photography, sculpture, and video engaging diverse materials imbued with conceptual underpinnings, questioning ideas of borders, geography, landscape, identity, memory, history, and the natural world.
In the recent suite of six drawings titled 'Leaking Lines', Reena intentionally conflates the ‘line', a primary artistic device with epic territorial delineations; here tense international borders and fortifications during wars appear like charred fissures on the surface of the paper. Conceived as diptychs, one part rendered in charcoal reveals the factual landscape, while the other forming a flayed fence using electric wires form rich cartographic abstractions.
Another work 'Chorus' is modeled on pre-radar acoustic devices used to track sounds of enemy aircraft during the Second World War.
"Reena, in an act of subverting notions of war, introduces bird calls from border-sharing countries either politically partitioned or in conflict such as the Hoopoe bird (national bird of Israel) singing to the Palestinian Sunbird (national bird of Palestine), the Peacock (from India) communicating with the Doyel (from Bangladesh), the Crested Caracara (national bird from Mexico) singing in unison with the Eagle (national bird of US)... Though appropriated as national symbols by one or the other nation, these bird species inhabit both, being citizens only of a particular terrain and climate that no country can claim ownership to," the gallery said in a note on the exhibition.
Also part of the exhibition is a large work on paper titled 'Cleft' where hybrid animals and birds come together to form a complex world of conjoined species making a determined and desperate effort to reset a divided planet apportioned by humankind.
In Blind Spots (2018-19), Reena Kallat deploys the preambles of the constitutions of seven pairs of warring nations from around the world as eye charts used to measure vision. As the founding promises of hostile nation-states are revealed in the form of pyramids with disjointed letters, words common to both constitutions in each pair morph into Braille-like dots.
Following her solo exhibition at the Manchester Museum, and a flurry of exhibitions internationally at venues as varied as the Museum of Modern Art New York, Art Gallery of New South Wales, and Havana Biennale, this is Reena's solo exhibition in Mumbai after a gap of four years.
Currently, her work is being exhibited at the ICA Boston, Museu Oscar Niemeyer.