Tick the correct answer. What do you think of when you see a Viraj Naik drawing?
a) Surrealism b) hybridization c) Alice in Indian mythical Wonderland d) all of the above.
The answer is definitely ‘d’. Born and brought up in Goa, Naik claims he turns to nature for inspiration while painting. “Nature is an important aspect of my work and human beings are a part of nature. As I paint, I feel like a person wandering through a forest and put these feelings on to the canvas—the cautiousness, the animal instinct and the extra senses,” says the artist who just showed his works at the Capital’s Gallerie Nvya.
Naik prefers to refer to his works as drawings; his fascination with it began as he learnt the Italian technique chiaroscuro (Italian for dark-light), which is used to refer to the effects used by artists to represent contrasts of light, giving a sense of volume to the work. “I try and bring three or more images together to create a single human form. It’s a hybrid form where, first, we are animal and then human.” Naik is also inspired by Indian and Greek mythology, as is apparent from his work. He says his readings of world mythology help him evoke the hybridization of his drawings.
A recurring symbol that Naik uses is that of a flying figure— sometimes in the form of a rat with dragonfly-like wings. “I choose to insert flying figures into my paintings. I normally place them above the tail or other parts of the body of the central figure. They symbolize freedom,” he says.
Five of these artists inspire the work that has come to signify this artist and his art. “All these artists have done hybridization in one form or another. They all provide me inspiration in the form and technique I use.”
Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519)
Da Vinci’s sketches have always been very important. I was inspired by his investigative techniques and his interest in other scientific projects that would spill over to his work, which is sheer genius.
Salvador Dali (1904-1989)
Dali’s fantasy-oriented work has always fascinated me. In his ‘Persistence of Memory’, the image of the clock melting is quite amazing. I have always wanted to know what frame of mind he must have been in, what he must have thought about while painting it.
Francis Newton Souza (1924-2002)
Souza’s painting technique has been an inspiration. I like the vigorous way in which he draws lines on paper.
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Picasso is the master of the 20th century. His use of the printmaking technique of mezzotint (engraving in reverse, the artist works from black to white) inspires me. Also the way he uses images in his Minotaur series. The hybridization of form in this series holds special importance for me and my work.
Laxma Goud (b. 1940)
Laxma Goud is my teacher. I believe he is the greatest printmaker of our country. He has mastered the art of etching. His black and white images are very dominating and stand out in my mind.