Two Decades of Togetherness
Reena and Jitish Kallat started their careers in art as two of the thousands of students at Sir JJ School of Art in Mumbai, and have gone on to become one of the most noted artist couples in India. In 2013, they will complete 20 years together.
"We were comfortable with the idea of modest living when we got married," recalls Reena, the more organised of the two. If Jitish is impulsive, she is more patient. Together, they strike a perfect balance. "We are different in temperament. Reena likes to put her thoughts together before she shares them, I tend to be more spontaneous," says Jitish, adding that a few months of courtship were sufficient for them to realise that they wanted to spend their lives together.
Jitish is well-known for using art as a platform to voice his sociopolitical concerns. Once, in college, he was up against the authorities. He was among a group of students who had plastered the college walls with posters that urged the institution to be more responsive to developments in the world of contemporary art. "I would perform in front of my early installations and be deliberately rude to people, including my teachers and classmates," recalls the rebel. Reena initially found his behaviour offensive and confronted him. "This was the foundation for our marriage. We found that we shared similar interests and had many common friends. We spent most of our time together, visiting libraries and galleries after classes," says Reena. They also admired each other's works and would highlight issues in their art. They organised their first joint exhibition while still in college, and there have been numerous ever since. "We often exhibit together as part of group shows and try to synchronise our travel plans. However, the invitations are not always combined and we get a fair number of separate letters in our respective studios," says Jitish .