The story of Indian Art #20: Reena Saini Kallat

A look at the life and work of Reena Saini Kallat, a visual artist, who is known far and wide for her thought-provoking pieces of contemporary art.

“Balloons are fragile so putting our aspirations in them is a way of conveying how ephemeral these objects that we chase are.” – Reema Saini Kallat

Reena Saini Kallat is a visual artist. She was born in 1973 in New Delhi. She is immersed in and inspired by the circle of life and nature, and the humanity that coexists and grapples with it. Her art is informed by these influences. Reena is known far and wide for her thought-provoking pieces of contemporary art.

Reena Saini Kallat leads off the Indian Summer Festival with her global tapestry installation, 'Woven Chronicle'

Reena Saini Kallat leads with her global tapestry installation, ‘Woven Chronicle’

Portrait of Reena Saini Kallat

From installations to photographs to paintings to sculptures, Reena’s work reflects the constant churn of definition and redefinition. The underlying theme in all her explorations seems to be undefeatable and un-fatigable ‘prakriti,’ or nature as a force that is constantly creating and destroying, never resting as one world replaces another, only to end eventually itself.

How these dualities are functioning all the time and how we interact or ignore them is what she tries to convey through her art. The mundane takes on a surreal face in her sure hands and vivid imagination. You can see this when she, for instance, paints cars and houses in filled balloons, or towering structures made out of slices of bread faced by androgynous and fantastic creatures.

Braiding the Line

Braiding the Line (2002)

Babies and children also appear and reappear from time to time as a recurring motif in her oeuvre. They regularly infuse the concepts she considers most stimulating, i.e., the cycle of life, and representation of the images that this cycle gives life to in exotic and unusual ways.

Reena graduated from the Sir J.J. School of Art in 1996. Reena is also a trained dancer (Bharatanatyam). She had her art exhibited for the first time in class 9, when some of her paintings created with poster colours were displayed.

She held her first professional solo show in Mumbai in 1998. It was called ‘Orchards of Home-grown Secrets’. Reena has also been honoured with several notable honours, including the Gladstone Solomon Award for painting.

She lives and works in Mumbai.

Check Out A Gallery of Reena Saini Kallat’s Work Here.


To read other editions of the series, click here.

Avinash Subramaniam

Avinash has been an advertising writer, fiction writer, poetry writer, freelance writer and serial wronger. Other roles he has been in include those of an editor, brand builder, and teacher. His interests include advertising, scrabble, body building, chess, cinema, making money, reading, internet culture, cricket, photography. To hear him air his thoughts, follow him on Twitter @armchairexpert.


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