Friday, January 01, 2021

January 2021 Unicorn Of The Month: Viraj Mithani

For anyone who reads this blog on regular basis, you know I have a soft spot for fellow SAIC Alumni. If you know me personally, you also know I love and appreciate artists that go above and beyond their studio practice. The vast majority of practicing American artists, at least all the ones I know, have multiple jobs outside of their studio practice. Some of them write for publications like Hyperallergic or Art Forum. I know a handful that work at museums. One friend in particular works for PACE. Some are the jet setting, air kisses when you greet someone at the Art Basel VIP private viewing, drinking champagne art advisor types. Or rather they were before Covid 19. Some of them have mundane, non art related day jobs. Almost of all have curated fantastic group shows. A few of them even manage to do a combination of the above. However very few of them have taken the steps that artist Viraj Mithani has taken. 

It was no surprise that artist were hit hard during the first stages of the lock down. At the beginning of the pandemic, Viraj Mithani extended the work he does with Carpe Arte and started Carpe Arte Supports- a streamlined way to provide financial stability to Indian artists by connecting them directly with new collectors! In just 8 months, 200+ artists showcased, and 377 works were sold raising 16.5 Lakhs | $22,000 for artists all over India! All transactions took place directly between the artist and buyers and 100% funds went directly to the artists- all through the Carpe Arte Instagram Account! 

I know the three previous sentences all ended with exclamation points, but when so many aspects of the contemporary art world are governed by a winner take all, cut throat, zero sum game mentality, an artist Mithani and the work that an organization like Carpe Arte needs to be praised with multiple exclamation points!

In addition to the work he does with Carpe Arte, Mithani also has a vibrant, multifaceted studio practice. The push and pull between new and old in the " Eastern Affair" series is gorgeous. You should explore more of the work HERE, but of course, keep reading.

"I make prints and paintings that attempt to encompass the historical and autobiographical history of art within a single frame. My artworks revolve around several distinct cultures and traditions; drawing influence from Indian miniature and Warli paintings, Chinese opera art, Japanese woodcut prints, and European/ American western art movements, to name several. As Roland Barthes suggests in his essay “Rhetoric of the Image,” each image has both a coded iconic message and a non-coded iconic message. My images have a literal linguistic meaning, relating to the physicality of medium but are simultaneously ciphered with personal content. At the heart of my practice is a relationship between deep-rooted world techniques like lithography and new world technology like digital printing. For example, I paint on plexi-plate and then run it through the press. I repeat the process with specific adjustments made to the pressure of the printing press amounting to overlapping of the image. The mono print is then layered with translucent images/patterns, a technique called Giclee. 

"My goal is to strike a balance between the traditional and progressive. Color psychology and color symbolism play an integral role in my prints and paintings. I want to explore and create visual semiotics of motifs that are borrowed from several of these mentioned art traditions. I attempt to relate my art to how it affects the viewership (audience reacting to colors, imagery and symbols) and in turn, the stimulation and psychological response it produces. These medias extend human perception, which result in private space no longer being personal. Developing medias blur the boundary lines of space and mediums. Media is not limited to digital products. Body, objects, text, mark making and other elements are also medias for space phenomenon. From traditional to progressive mediums, I create a conversation and study between the privatized space and the imaginary private space, which also includes various dimensionalities (2D, 3D and 4D)."

"My works are produced on traditional materials like canvas and paper, but also on unconventional matter like fabrics such as felt and vinyl, each featuring a blend of representation and colorful abstraction. My prints and paintings consist of blocks of color, splatter, loose grids of varying line weight, washes and deft use of found materials. I also aim to build intimations of depth but in a distinctly painterly manner, with great sensitivity to facture and tonality. These works are a hybrid of discarded materials, available techniques—both old and new, tying them back to the source of my inspirations. My goal is to retain my traditional artistic background and culture while embracing the constant change that impacts my practice."

Viraj Mithani is part of two upcoming group shows in February and March. 079 Gallery in Ahmedabad, India and Plot pointsat Tao Art Gallery curated by Satyajit Dave. 

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