Viraj Viral Mithani

Viraj Mithani is an interdisciplinary contemporary artist. His works derive from historic artistic cultures and worldly traditions. His practice floats between print, painting and sculpture. Native of Mumbai, India, he began with a traditional background in the arts. He graduated with a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2015. He also holds a diploma degree from Chelsea Camberwell Wimbledon College of Art and Design (CCW) of University of Arts London (2012). His selected exhibitions include: Dalarnas Museum Falun in Sweden – Falun International Print Triennial, International Competition Lithography Litho – Kielce/2015 Kielce in Poland, Hammond Museum in New York, Williamsburg Art and Historical Centre in New York, Flushing Town Hall in New York, Sullivan Galleries in Chicago, Gene Siskel Film Centre in Chicago, and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal U.S.A’s Chicago Gallery. Viraj Mithani currently works and resides in Chicago, IL pursuing his art practice and teaching at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.


Residency Period:

Sep 2016–Dec 2016

Project Statement:

I make prints and paintings that attempt to encompass the historical and autobiographical history of art within a single frame. My artworks revolve around several distinct cultures and traditions; drawing influence from Indian miniature and Warli paintings, Chinese opera art, Japanese woodcut prints, and European/ American western art movements, to name several. As Roland Barthes suggests in his essay “Rhetoric of the Image,” each image has both a coded iconic message and a non-coded iconic message. My images have a literal linguistic meaning, relating to the physicality of medium but are simultaneously ciphered with personal content. At the heart of my practice is a relationship between deep-rooted world techniques like lithography and new world technology like digital printing. For example, I paint on plexi-plate and then run it through the press. I repeat the process with specific adjustments made to the pressure of the printing press amounting to overlapping of the image. The mono print is then layered with translucent images/patterns, a technique called Giclee.

My goal is to strike a balance between the traditional and progressive. Color psychology and color symbolism play an integral role in my prints and paintings. I want to explore and create visual semiotics of motifs that are borrowed from several of these mentioned art traditions. I attempt to relate my art to how it affects the viewership (audience reacting to colors, imagery and symbols) and in turn, the stimulation and psychological response it produces. These medias extend human perception, which result in private space no longer being personal. Developing medias blur the boundary lines of space and mediums. Media is not limited to digital products. Body, objects, text, mark making and other elements are also medias for space phenomenon. From traditional to progressive mediums, I create a conversation and study between the privatized space and the imaginary private space, which also includes various dimensionalities (2D, 3D and 4D).

My works are produced on traditional materials like canvas and paper, but also on unconventional matter like fabrics such as felt and vinyl, each featuring a blend of representation and colorful abstraction. My prints and paintings consist of blocks of color, splatter, loose grids of varying line weight, washes and deft use of found materials. I also aim to build intimations of depth but in a distinctly painterly manner, with great sensitivity to facture and tonality. These works are a hybrid of discarded materials, available techniques—both old and new, tying them back to the source of my inspirations. My goal is to retain my traditional artistic background and culture while embracing the constant change that impacts my practice.

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