Spirited In The Arts: Reena Saini Kallat
She sees the mundane from a perspective that is wholly her own, reading between the lines, recognising common underlying concepts and presenting them in a remarkably intuitive manner. Reena Saini Kallat belongs to the intrepid breed of Indian artists who are inimitably reimagining abstract art. “Becoming an artist was, for me, as natural as breathing. I’ve grown up making art without knowing it and, even while in school, I was told that this is where I should be. For some reason I always resisted it…until I realised it was where my heart lay.” She cites the turning point for her as her time at J. J. School of Art, Mumbai. Although she joined the school to pursue architecture and design, it ended up kindling a passion for understanding the world, using art as a tool.
“Undoubtedly, I think it is art itself that feeds the desire to produce more of it. The more I was introduced to the works of other artists and given exposure to the way they thought, the more passionate I became about creating my own.” She speaks about Christo Javacheff wrapping buildings and a piece at documenta exhibition in Germany, ruminating on visions that sought to alter the audience’s perception of the world around them. She views herself as playing the role of a catalyst, observing that it is the conditions, people and situations around her that manifest an idea. Her creative process is “like riyaz; it’s about being in my workspace all day, every single day” and is centred around discipline.
Touching upon one of her most fascinating subjects, in my opinion, she reflects on humans having to turn to another species to understand how to coexist on the planet at this point in history. Her work titled Hyphenated Lives uses the theme of interdependence to create fictional species, which are almost like conjoined twins; each half of her creation is imagined to come from countries that have been partitioned. The gentle, gracious intellectual is also interested in psychology, interpretations and misinterpretations — the last of which she feels is equally, if not more, interesting. “The creative arts are important, more so today, because they offer the potential to unlock things that go unnoticed and bring to the surface undercurrents that define a moment in time. While we’re undergoing a lot of change and transition at every point, art has the capacity to draw our attention to what we’re overlooking.”