Born in Patiala, Punjab in 1953, Ranbir Kaleka spent his early college days in Patiala and Chandigarh, earning a diploma in Painting from the College of Art, Chandigarh. He spent the next few years teaching art before leaving for London on a Charles Wallace Scholarship to study art from the Royal College. London was his home for several years until he returned to India in the late nineties.
Often termed surrealistic, Ranbir Kaleka’s works usually follow a dream-logic, refraining from coherent narratives. Though his earlier works from the seventies seemed more internalised, weaving together seemingly unrelated, fantastic elements, his later works remain open ended and in communication with the viewer, making their viewing an interactive experience. Often erotic and libidinous, his works present themselves to the viewer to project her/his subconscious onto, subverting the apparent ambiguity on a subjective level. The libidinal in his works remain masculine and primal, framed by phantasmal animal motifs.
In the later phase of his career he found expression in video art, projecting video onto painted canvases. Here too, the works attempt to draw the viewer into the narrative, such as in Powder Room (1999-2000) through the use of a reflective surface. His video work Man with Cockerel was chosen for a group show at CASA ASIA – Indian Narrative in the 21st Century: Between Memory and History at Madrid and Barcelona in Spain in collaboration with Walsh Gallery. The artist currently lives and works in New Delhi.