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Artist Profile3
Viraj Naik’s vivacious hybridized realm
Viraj Naik has a flair for ironic humor, a trait that has struggled and wrested free of his initial melancholic musings. The apparent exaggeration of features, the twisting of bodies and the hybridization of forms - where animal and man fused in a grisly yet captivating manner - emerged from a fondness for Egyptian and Prehistoric cave art, a discipline this Goa based artist was exposed to during the steady course of his artistic evolution.

A confluence of various energies and coexistence of various forms and styles that the Goan art is renowned for, starting with A X Trindade and F N Souza is amply evident in this immense talented artist’s oeuvre. Goa’s contoured landscape; its unique history and cultural heritage, tinged with an atmosphere of social receptivity invariably inspire creative souls. Viraj Naik is no exception to this. According to him, "Goa is a great art hub for India. We have the perfect backdrop in terms of heritage sites to showcase works of art from all over the world."

The artist received his B.F.A in printmaking from Goa College of Art, Goa University (1993-98). He then completed his M.F.A in printmaking from Sarojini Naidu School of Fine Art, University of Hyderabad (1998-2000) where he was later invited to teach as a guest faculty member. He has had solo shows at Galerie Nvya, New Delhi (2006); The Museum Gallery, Mumbai (2004); and Galerie Cidade, Goa. He received a Merit Scholarship from the University of Hyderabad (1998) and the All Indian Fine Arts and Crafts Society State Award, Goa (1997, 2000). His works have been showcased at several prestigious galleries internationally.

Among the artists who have primarily influenced him are Leonardo Da Vinci, Salvador Dali, Francis Newton Souza, Pablo Picasso and Laxma Goud. He has noted: “All these artists have done hybridization in one form or another. They all provide me inspiration in the form and technique I use.” Making a special mention of his teacher Laxma Goud, Viraj Naik quips, “I believe he is the greatest printmaker of our country. He has mastered the art of etching. His black and white images are very dominating and stand out in my mind.”

Viraj Naik often turns to nature for seeking inspiration while painting. The artist says, “It (nature) is an important aspect of my creations and human beings are a part of it. As I paint, I feel like wandering through a forest and try to depict these feelings on to the canvas—the cautiousness and the animal instinct and the extra senses.”

Essentially a story teller, he weaves his narration around a world of make-believe creatures emerging from his vivid imagination. He creates his own mythologies, and traverses the world of the credible to create the phantasmagoria with a deft stroke of his ink pen, his color-tipped brush or his graphite pencil. A proficient printmaker, Viraj Naik displays a natural flare for watercolors and acrylics. He greatly relishes the creation of hybrids and chimeras, soaking in their dramatic personae, a composite of bird and animal, human and machine, and so on.

Stepping into his painterly realm, one is transferred to a surreal world. It is his love for and four-legged creatures that prompts him to draw parallels between them and humans. Elaborating on this aspect, he has stated: "I feel that animals share a peculiar relationship with humans. This comes out in my works as hybridization between the two. I feel that every human being has animal instincts and I bring them out through my paintings."

In his recent body of works, consisting of drawings on paper and a few canvases, Viraj Naik presents a slice of this fantastical world. Here, a peacock grows a tree from its head, and a winged horse magically merges with a torso of an amazing Atlas-like figure. Simultaneously, a passive half-fish-half-man contemplates the universe akin to Plato or Aristotle straight from a Greek play. The classical period and Greek mythology prompts him to create space for images to sprung and enliven the spirit of forms visualized into pictorial religion.

In fact, the artist has always been fascinated with the subjects of history and mythology. Spelling out his artistic processes and philosophy, he has stated: “Today’s world is unique, with varied subjects to communicate as an individual process. My work is a combination of human, mythic, animal, and artificial parts. Hybridization is the constant rotation that evolves to self-mutilation and construction. The overall process is a transformation of existence to the presence of imagination.”