Mithani’s practise is well on its way to being realised as a melting pot of art history, art-making and contemporary observations. Having studied and taught art, Viraj comes with a nuanced understanding of it, and has let that knowledge seduce him into straddling multiple mediums on his palette. From graphic design, to printing, to advertising, all find a place in his artistic journey. He has been owning, claiming and re-narrativizing traditional Indian craft forms, to engaging with textile, leading up to his current outing which is a commentary on the unconscious everyday consumption of plastic.Titled The Politics of Color, this body of work revolves around Mithani’s moniker ‘the plastic era’, which is the mainstay of our times - where plastic consumption is far more ubiquitous than we realise - from packaged food, bottled water, utensils to electronics and medicines, and much more.
‘I use materials and it’s function changes in my work’ aptly describes his relationship with layered printing in these giclee print works. He creates a split dichotomy - of the scarcity and rarity of organic form like paper versus a manmade, ‘progressive’ inorganic abundance of plastic. He does this by continuing the traditional practices of print-making, but layers it with giclee print inspired by the plastic he sees around him - some works appear to have translucent bits of plastic which hints towards urbane human excess. From huddled human forms, repeated motifs, to the translucent rainy innards of a city, and glacier like gaps in the middle of a heavily colour-laden print. Interestingly enough, his art work doesn’t restrict itself in the designated rectangular window. It spills out, overlaps, shifts at an angle, and sometimes, does not conventionally center itself. This guides the viewers’ eye encouragingly forward to experience ‘why’ and become curious about the myriad of colors.
I maintain that color has multiple lives in multiple contexts - and their meaning making occurs in relation to each other and not just in and of itself. Red is used in all ‘danger’ signals as red light is scattered the least by air molecules. Sindoor, red colored pigment,when applied to the parting in her hair signifies the conjugal status of a woman in the Indian cultural context. The matador’s cape which provokes the bull, is also red. Red is also ubiquitously known as the color love, anger, sin and the devil - all at once! This list is endless, and, so is the amalgamation of media in Politics of Color, where one can experience that embedded history of color and its tension, through this entire corridor.
Text by The Quorum
The Politics of Color by Viraj Mithani, created specially for The Corridor Project at The Quorum, is a contemporary exploration of various artistic mediums, focusing especially on vinyl, a hint at the ‘plastic age’ we currently live in. A commentary on the role of advertising in our digital world, and the illusion of reality it presents to us, this unique body of work delivers an abstraction laden with nuance and social observation.
Through this, his first exhibition in the capital, the twenty five year old progressive artist focuses his prints on the symbolism of color - purposefully using color as an instrument to comment and explore the use of it as a manipulating tool in contemporary times and to talk about the reactions and conversations it evokes. In his work, Mithani endeavors to delve into the meanings of motifs and imagery borrowed from his various cultural influences, and explore the psychological responses his art incites in his audiences. Layering this artwork with not only literal meaning, but also hinting at personal context, Mithani’s work is reminiscent of Christian Morgenstern’s words, “In every work of art, the artist himself is present”.
At the core of his artistic method is melding together traditional and more avant-garde techniques. His compositions mesmerizingly balance physical and digital printing methods, building on original monoprints with translucent images and patterns - utilizing an art technique called Giclee, a relatively modern practice in the Art world. Transcending the shackles of his medium, whether it’s canvas, felt, or vinyl, Mithani’s artwork attempts to study dimensionalities beyond conventional perception - pushing his viewers far past the constraints of the Third dimension.