Eight artists, 8 themes, and a world of inspiration come together to illustrate the times we live in. Art has and always will be the teller and sign of our times. Whether through cheeky humour, or tactile interventions, the world around us can be framed into a 4X4 painting or a larger-than-life sculpture.
Le Mill and Viraj Mithani joined forces to scan our surroundings to pick emerging and established artists, across the length and breadth of our country, who punctuate how art instructs and depicts society. From themes of ‘Industry and Invention’ to ‘Identity’ and ‘Social Change’, read on for Viraj Mithani X Le Mill’s art edit, PART I.
Artwork by Siji Krishnan
Siji Krishnan’s paintings are extremely delicate and often loaded with references to personal interest like families and portraitures. During the Kochi Biennial in 2018, I had a wonderful opportunity to visit the Kochi-based painter’s studio. To understand the crux of her practice, decision making and handling of materiality like the paper, delicateness of her figure constructions and elements of nature that her work evokes; is to know that they all come from her natural surroundings.
She explains, “I am fascinated by the idea of portraits — of people, other living beings and nature - delving into the inner depths of their personalities, inviting them to saturate my senses. They are mostly unclear images and are perceived by me in abstraction though they do have a figurative structure. I aim to capture the presence of all the qualities I sense, using colour with restrained detailing, for an unchecked flow of consciousness. I am realising that it is essential to move beyond physical boundaries. This will also help me to better understand the processes of my mind.” With her soft watercolour washes and contours, she is interested in emphasising stance and gesture, while paring down physicality.
Image by Gauri Gill
Gauri Gill’s ongoing series Acts of Appearance is thought provoking and provides a great understanding of multiple facets of our society. It invites the viewers to rethink and contemplate many social norms that dictate us. Another integral part of her process is she works with the local artists to bring alive her masquerade.
Curator and writer Natasha Ginawala explains, “In her photographic practice, Gauri Gill chronicles the lives of those rendered powerless by state forces and societal structures, often portraying itinerant ways of life, rural communities and fragile livelihood structures. Drawn to the means through which individuals try to overcome their circumstances, in the last years she has been working alongside local artists to interpret stories.” Gill has been coined "one of India's most respected photographers" by the New York Times and one of "the most thoughtful photographers active in India today" in The Wire.
The jury for her Grange Prize in 2011 (Canada's most prestigious contemporary photography award), very aptly said that her works "often address ordinary heroism within challenging environments depicting the artist’s often-intimaterelationships with her subjects with a documentary spirit and a human concern over issues of survival”.
Conflict and Adversity
Image by Shreyas Karle
Shreyas Karle’s interdisciplinary practice has many layers to it that act as scaffolding to his conceptual ideology. His work revolves around contrasting ideas explaining social, political and bureaucratic scenarios. There is always a pull and push that he’s exploring physically through the mediums and through his commentary.
An excerpt from New Museum Triennial explains his work “Shreyas Karle is here to help you combat your minor concerns and everyday troubles. To Get Rid of Pimples, Stop Mirror Worship'' and “Understanding Hair-loss in 5 Steps” are just two works by the Mumbai-based artist that employ absurd irony and Buzzfeed-y wit, all through some really deft illustration.Creating scenes that mock, challenge and poke fun at our quite dire contemporary condition, Karle wants audiences to participate in his attempts to navigate our contradictory reality – using collage, video and sculpture as a means to make sense of it all..”
Time and Space
Artwork by Vishwa Shroff
Vishwa Shroff has a unique approach towards depicting, analysing, recording and summarising architectural elements around her. It’s almost like a registry of historical and current spaces being documented voluntarily and subconsciously.
“The attentions with which these objects are perceived generate a record of isolated artefacts that have developed in space and time. The shifting balance between permanence and transition is evocative of life that once existed, of neighbourhood anecdotes and landmarks, whilst the buildings become a repository of its own history. These spaces and places have a momentary and uncertain existence that allow them to be construed as chronicles of Linear time, encompassing the days, weeks and months that have passed between then and now and as a continuum. They are perceived as temporal maps of architectural fashions, memorials to alterations of that space which is intentionally conceived, mutates and is in a constant state of flux,” states Shroff.
About Viraj Mithani
Viraj Mithani is a contemporary artist. His practice floats between painting and printmaking. Native of Mumbai, India, he began with a traditional background in the arts. He graduated with a B.F.A in Painting and Printmaking from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2015). He also holds a diploma degree in Studio Art and Visual Communications from Chelsea Camberwell Wimbledon College of Art and Design (CCW) of University of Arts London (2012).
His solo exhibitions include: Eastern Affair (Ravi Vazirani Design Studio, Mumbai, 2018), Politics of Color (The Quorum in Gurgaon, 2018), Decalcomania Fractal at Clark House Initiative (2017) and Paper to Plastic (Spudnik Press Cooperative in Chicago, 2017). Selected Group shows: Kagaz at 079 Stories in Ahmedabad (2021), Making Space at Sakshi Gallery in Mumbai (2019), Illinois State Museum, Lockport, IL (2018), Dalarnas Museum Falun in Sweden. Mithani has been selected and invited to be Artist-in-Residence at Spudnik Press Co-operative in Chicago (Fellowship 2016), Vermont Studio Center in Jhonson, VT (Merit Scholarship Recipient, 2015) and Space 118 in Mumbai (2017).
He’s a founding member of Carpe Arte group (2017) and founder of Carpe Arte Supports (2020-21). He currently lives and practices in Mumbai.