Viraj Naik resurrects animal farm at Sunaparanta, Goa
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Viraj Naik resurrects animal farm at Sunaparanta, Goa

STIR visits Sunaparanta - Goa Centre for the Arts, to visit Viraj Naik’s solo exhibition Ordinary Superheroes: Tales from the AniMan Kingdom, on display until September 20.

by Sukanya Garg Sep 04, 2019

Sly eyes, cunning faces, conniving expressions and others that remain hidden inside the artist’s mind; for viewers, Viraj Naik’s works not only seem to draw a thread between what they see on the walls of Sunaparanta and the faces they may have crossed paths with, but also a sub-conscious connection between their own thousand faces – both ugly and not so ugly.

  • Etching, 25cm x 30cm, 2019, Artist Proof, Rosa Fina Fabriano Paper | Ordinary Superheroes: Tales from the AniMan Kingdom | Viraj Naik | STIR
    Etching, 25cm x 30cm, 2019, Artist Proof, Rosa Fina Fabriano Paper Image Credit: Courtesy of Sunaparanta - Goa Centre for the Arts
  • Gaze II, Etching, 17cm x 12cm, 2018, Artist print 1/1, Satin White Somerset Paper | Ordinary Superheroes: Tales from the AniMan Kingdom | Viraj Naik | STIR
    Gaze II, Etching, 17cm x 12cm, 2018, Artist print 1/1, Satin White Somerset Paper Image Credit: Courtesy of Sunaparanta - Goa Centre for the Arts

The Goa-based artist claims to have painted a new species, the AniMan kingdom, in his ongoing solo exhibition Ordinary Superheroes: Tales from the AniMan Kingdom at the Sunaparanta - Goa Centre for the Arts. The centre, which retains its old-world Portuguese villa charm, supports arts in Goa under the patronage of Dipti and Dattaraj V. Salgaocar. Encouraging innovative work in visual arts and other creative fields, Naik’s exhibition has been curated by Leandre D’Souza.

D’Souza talks about Naik’s exhibition, which presents a collection of over 95 ink drawings, etchings and sculptures of hybridised subjects, in the video below.

02 min watch Sukanya Garg from STIR in conversation with Leandre D’Souza at Sunaparanta – Goa Centre for the Arts | Ordinary Superheroes: Tales from the AniMan Kingdom | Viraj Naik | STIR
Sukanya Garg from STIR in conversation with Leandre D’Souza at Sunaparanta – Goa Centre for the Arts Video Credit: Sukanya Garg

Amalgamating the human and the animal in his works, Naik believes, “There is no difference between man and animal. We are also animals.” For him the exploration of the dark or ’beastly‘ side of humans, as he puts it, is inspired by, “observations which come across every day in our daily conversations with the society or politicians.” His paintings are a reflection of the internal expressions of humans. Yet, these images, while fantastical to the viewer, are portraits nonetheless.

  • Pen, ink and graphite, 20cm x 15cm, 2019, Hot Press Paper | Ordinary Superheroes: Tales from the AniMan Kingdom | Viraj Naik | STIR
    Pen, ink and graphite, 20cm x 15cm, 2019, Hot Press Paper Image Credit: Courtesy of Sunaparanta - Goa Centre for the Arts
  • Pen, ink and graphite, 20cm x 15cm, 2019, Fabriano Hot Press Paper | Ordinary Superheroes: Tales from the AniMan Kingdom | Viraj Naik | STIR
    Pen, ink and graphite, 20cm x 15cm, 2019, Fabriano Hot Press Paper Image Credit: Courtesy of Sunaparanta - Goa Centre for the Arts
  • Pen, ink and graphite, 29cm x 20cm, 2017, Schöellershammer Paper | Ordinary Superheroes: Tales from the AniMan Kingdom | Viraj Naik | STIR
    Pen, ink and graphite, 29cm x 20cm, 2017, Schöellershammer Paper Image Credit: Courtesy of Sunaparanta - Goa Centre for the Arts

Naik reiterates, “I know that this particular human being exists. As I say that I had specialised in portraiture in art college, but today portraiture is only for the non-living and if you want to do real portraiture, it is only for people who can pay. But I see these as portraits, but it is difficult for the audience to accept it. What I say is - let the audience communicate with it and try to find out who this person is in your surroundings. I have done my job of putting it on paper and I know who this person is. It is hybridized or metamorphosed indirectly.”

  • Shaka Tika, Pictograph, 25cm x 28cm, 2019, Editions of 7, Hahnemühle Archival Paper | Ordinary Superheroes: Tales from the AniMan Kingdom | Viraj Naik | STIR
    Shaka Tika, Pictograph, 25cm x 28cm, 2019, Editions of 7, Hahnemühle Archival Paper Image Credit: Courtesy of Sunaparanta - Goa Centre for the Arts
  • Bravehearts, Pictograph, 25cm x 28cm, 2019, Editions of 7, Hahnemühle Archival Paper | Ordinary Superheroes: Tales from the AniMan Kingdom | Viraj Naik | STIR
    Bravehearts, Pictograph, 25cm x 28cm, 2019, Editions of 7, Hahnemühle Archival Paper Image Credit: Courtesy of Sunaparanta - Goa Centre for the Arts

Naik’s hybrids, however, seem to derive inspiration from mythology, folk tales and images. While as a child, he delved into reading stories, myths and fables from different cultures, comparing and contrasting them, he wanted to dive further into the visual imagery of these stories. Naik says, “I wanted to know images and for that I wanted to know what is the story. So for the story, I wanted to make an image which is not the same.” While the latter posed a challenge, his journey of documenting what he saw eventually led to the evolution of his own new language of expression. In the video below, the artist talks about one of his sculptural works which depicts a demigod. 

01 min watch Sukanya Garg from STIR in conversation with Viraj Naik | Ordinary Superheroes: Tales from the AniMan Kingdom | Viraj Naik | STIR
Sukanya Garg from STIR in conversation with Viraj Naik Video Credit: Sukanya Garg

Not only are Naik’s characters hybridised, but his whole artistic technique is a combination of collage, printmaking, photography and painting. Talking about the skill behind his work, Naik points to a work called Hybridization, which according to him represents the crescendo of his artistic journey till now. The work is a compilation of printmaking plates he has worked on for 10 years, photographs and collage. Together, he refers to this technique as ‘hybridisation’ as he explains in the video below.

01 min watch Sukanya Garg from STIR in conversation with Viraj Naik | Ordinary Superheroes: Tales from the AniMan Kingdom | Viraj Naik | STIR
Sukanya Garg from STIR in conversation with Viraj Naik Video Credit: Sukanya Garg

Naik is a deeply sensitive artist who infuses his work with a sense of wit rarely found in portraiture. It is no surprise then that despite holding a solo exhibition after 15 years in Goa, his works continue to amaze audiences of all ages. Naik doesn’t like to be bound or work within boundaries. His work, according to him, is ’universal‘. Social boundaries, circumstances and systems withholding freedom, forcing conditioning and ways of life and upbringing have always intrigued the artist. While he observes society and its play at a distance, his drawings are more than reflective of the state we are in. Consequently, our interpretations of his work, while left open-ended by him, may not after all be so when we eye his works, or perhaps have them eyeing us. Like all best storytellers, he leaves the ending to us.

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About Author

Sukanya Garg

Sukanya Garg

Garg is an artist and writer with a Masters degree in Public Policy from Duke University, USA. She has been involved in research, planning and execution of gallery exhibitions and external projects in collaboration with curators. Her writing has been published in several art magazines, journals and as part of curatorial notes and catalogues, and her work has been showcased in multiple exhibitions.

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