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. The artist currently lives and works with New Delhi.


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.

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.


In 2007, Spertus Museum, Chicago commissioned Kaleka to make a Holocaust memorial; the site-specific video installation Consider consisted of two projections - a painting and an audio narrative of oral testimony from Auschwitz. Kaleka’s works have been showcased worldwide, at the Mori Museum, Tokyo, Japan, Institute of Modern Art, Valencia, Spain, Chicago Cultural Center, Kunstmuseum Bern, Switzerland Hangar Bicocca, Milan, Busan Museum of Modern Art, South Korea, Art Basel Miami Beach, Miami, Asia Society, Venice Biennale, Kochi-Muziris Biennale, and House of World Cultures, Berlin, Sydney Biennale, Prague Biennale; The Fourth Guangzhou Triennial, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mumbai, Jawahar Kala Kendra, Jaipur, Moscow Museum of Modern Art, among others. 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.


Kaleka was awarded the National Award by the President of India at the 22nd National Exhibition of Art organised by the Lalit Kala Akademi in 1979 in Delhi.