Jitish Kallat Covering Letter

Jitish Kallat, Covering Letter, John Hansard Gallery, installation view. Courtesy the artist and Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi. Photo: Thierry Bal

Alongside Tangled Hierarchy, John Hansard Gallery is proud to present the first UK showing of Jitish Kallat’s immersive installation Covering Letter (2012).

Taking the form of words projected onto a curtain of cascading fog, the piece presents an historical letter by Mahatma Gandhi to Adolf Hitler, written just weeks before the start of World War II. In the spirit of his principle of universal friendship, Gandhi begins the letter with the greeting “Dear friend.” Mist diffuses Gandhi’s projected words, echoing the fate of his message, which went unheeded. Kallat describes this correspondence as a plea from a great advocate of peace to one of the most violent individuals who ever lived. It is equally an open invitation for self-reflection, as its scrolling words speak to the extreme violence in the world today.

In both Tangled Hierarchy and Covering Letter, Kallat revisits potent historical documents, drawing attention to the possibilities of peace and tolerance in a world plagued by violence, control, and surveillance. Themes of violence, displacement, trauma and rupture are echoed throughout Tangled Hierarchy and Covering Letter demonstrating the cyclical nature of human history and how calls for peace repeatedly go unheeded.

Jitish Kallat was born in 1974 in Mumbai, the city where he continues to live and work. Kallat’s works reveal his continued engagement with the ideas of time, sustenance, recursion and historical recall, often interlacing the dense cosmopolis and the distant cosmos. Using abstract, schematic, notational and representational languages, he engages with different modes of address, seamlessly interlacing the immediate and the cosmic, the telescopic and the microscopic, the past and present.

Solo exhibitions include: Art Institute of Chicago, Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum (Mumbai), the Ian Potter Museum of Art (Melbourne), Frist Art Museum (Nashville), Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sydney) and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In 2017, the National Gallery of Modern Art (New Delhi) presented a survey of his work, Here After Here 1992-2017, curated by Catherine David.

He has exhibited widely at museums and institutions including Tate Modern (London), MartinGropius-Bau (Berlin), Gallery of Modern Art (Brisbane), Kunstmuseum (Bern), Serpentine Galleries (London), Mori Art Museum (Tokyo), BOZAR: Centre For Fine Arts (Brussels), and Pirelli Hangar Bicocca (Milan), as well as the Havana Biennale, Gwangju Biennale, Asia Pacific Triennale, Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale, Curitiba Biennale, Guangzhou Triennale and the Kyiv Biennale. Kallat was the Artistic Director of Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014, and curated the inaugural curatorial project I draw, therefore I think for the South South Platform in 2021.

Back to top