Mumbai artist employs his love for printmaking to capture the minutiae of the city

Jun 18, 2017, 13:19 IST | Kusumita Das

While 24-year-old Chicago based artist and educator Viraj Mithani was preparing to set up his first exhibition in Mumbai, he had little idea as to what it would end up being

Viraj Mithani displays his artworks at Clark House. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Viraj Mithani displays his artworks at Clark House. Pic/Bipin Kokate

While 24-year-old Chicago based artist and educator Viraj Mithani was preparing to set up his first exhibition in Mumbai, he had little idea as to what it would end up being. Mithani, who works predominantly in mixed media, with a special focus on printmaking, was inducted into the realm of fine arts by his grandfather Naren Mithani. "I lost him last week. It's thanks to him that I got drawn to arts, my family otherwise is a hard-core business family. He was a great artist and photographer. And most of his work dates back to the years between 1946 and 50. Now, I want to include some of his paintings in the exhibition as well, as a tribute to my first mentor."

Artwork by Mithani
Artwork by Mithani

The artist, who is currently part of an art residency in the city, has been living in Ghatkopar. "Every day on my way to the studio, I cross the Mazgaon slums and the one thing that I never fail to notice is how there are clothes hanging everywhere, on the clothesline, windows, bikes, on every available surface. That is quite a picture to me, one that I wanted to replicate in my works, using printmaking. So, I have followed a certain kind of brushstroke, that ends up resembling endless stacks of clothes." His exhibition, that is titled Decalcomania Mania Fractal: An Ode To Naren, is a nod to the technique Mithani employs. "Decalcomania is a printing process where one paints on porcelain. I have used it more as a metaphor. And fractal is basically a repetition of tiny patterns. A snowflake is the best example of a fractal. And that essentially sums up my practice, of working with unconventional materials, looking at the minutiae."

Also interesting is Mithani's approach towards colour. More than the visual effect, he says, he likes observing colour psychology. "I like to see how people react to certain colours. It's a tool often used by advertising professionals while visualising campaigns. I have studied colour psychology too." Most of his works are monoprints, where he paints on plexi glass and runs them through the press. Once the main image comes off, the residual colours remain, which he prints out too. "Those are called ghost prints. The incompleteness of the image adds to the mystique. It's one of my favourite kinds of prints."

Where: Clark House Initiative, Clark House Building, Colaba
When: June 20 - June 30, 6.30 PM to 9.30 PM
Call: 9820213816

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