Of myriad characters and hybrid forms


HYDERABAD:  Ambrosia de Fabule, the solo exhibition of limited edition prints and mixed media works by the Goan artist, Viraj Naik, is replete with stories: Fabulous stories, emerging out of a hybrid society of animalistic-humans.  Or should be we say human-like animals. The plots are simple yet the synthesis of myriad characters with hybrid forms denotes a complexity to the narrative which transports the viewer to an altogether unrealistic portal which is surely the domain of the subconscious mind.

Each painting is a fable by itself. Instantly, the eye detects the angelic and the demonic appearing together. And this merger of the good and the bad leaves the spectator unsettled in the mind. The robust form of the figures certainly leaves a deep impact on the emotions of the onlooker, compelling him/her to put humanity under the scanner to detect our true nature, creating a space of understanding within us. 

Therefore, the snake-toad munching another toad with a batch of more toads in his manly arms is merely a pointer to the greed in humans which is a base instinct that gets better while accumulating material possessions. Or for that matter, the pot-bellied god-man with animalistic head and horns clearly portray the nefarious instincts that prevail in our body, mind, and emotions. The effects of which appear like a possessed spirit hovering over people around.

Although, there is a darker tinge attached to Naik’s works the spectator can still see the charm instilled in most of the characters. The caricaturish treatment of the figures, with exaggerated bodies, establishes their presence as fabulous signatures, lovingly created by the artist. Although all the creatures are implanted in the Goan landscape one cannot forget the goat, a common element recurring in most of the Hyderabadi artists’ works. Therefore, when we are referring to Viraj Naik’s Hyderabadi connection then we also cannot ignore his montage of portraits titled Ambrosia de Hyderabad which pays tribute to the people of this city.

With regard to his creative process Viraj Naik says: “For me, creativity is an ability to test the self in the cosmic world with purity and humanity. It is quite an interesting journey to detach the self from the greedy and materialistic world. If a person is unable to get into meditation with a spiritual journey then creativity is the easiest process to do so. But, equally, it can be dissolved into impurity. So the development of art cannot be justified on a calculative basis as mathematics, but involvement, dedication, and reasoning with the self. The process is shaping at its own cause and collectively gets inspiration from the past.”

After completing his Bachelors in Painting from the University of Goa in 1998, Viraj Naik should feel at home in Hyderabad as he completed his Masters in Printmaking from the University of Hyderabad in 2000 and later was invited by the University as a guest faculty for a while. His show is currently on display (ends October 28) at Park Hyatt, Banjara Hills.

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