Jitish Kallat’s work has been engaged with questions about sustenance, life cycles, historical events and natural phenomena. Referencing two Museum Reports from 1876 and 1877 about the procurement and the mounting procedure of a whale’s skeleton in the centre of the ground floor of the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Jitish Kallat's mammoth sculpture titled Aquasaurus (2008) is installed in that very location 142 years later.
'Aquasaurus' is the largest among a series of skeletal vehicles by the artist including Autosaurus Tripous (2007) and Collidonthus (2007). These emerged from small gouache drawings that Kallat made in 2002 referencing found photographs of vehicles burnt or damaged during conflict. Modelled on water tankers that ferry drinking water to water-short localities in urban India, Aquasaurus is described by the artist as “grotesque, burlesque and arabesque in equal measure” for its mammoth size and heavily ornamented yet monstrous body. Aquasaurus is both playful and unsettling, inscribed as it is with themes of violence, drought, death and mortality.
The work was featured as part of the exhibition 'Asymmetrical Objects', curated by Tasneem Zakaria Mehta and co-curated by Himanshu Kadam. The exhibition presented the works of ten contemporary artists whose practice includes an interest in nature and science or consumption and degradation as process and product, to respond to these ideas and to explore the much-debated Age of the Anthropocene and its impact on the environment and the effects on biodiversity.