Artist : Viraag Desai
Title : Portrait of a meme
Medium : Crushed terracotta, resin,. acrylic on canvas
Size : 36" x 48"
Year : 2016
Born in Kolkata in 1986, Viraag Desai graduated with a BFA and two Merit Scholarships from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2009, and has shown widely in USA & India. He did an artist residency in Nielson Gallery, Grazalema, Spain and a show in Shanghai in 2015.
While in art school, he studied the techniques and aesthetics of traditional art styles, combining their iconography with modern themes. The resultant works were exhibited at the Sullivan Galleries in downtown Chicago.
Viraag Desai is an artist and creator of images both esoteric and apposite in an age of the intangible. He simultaneously preserves and destroys the past in order to create an object, animating it and, thereby, creates the future. There is, however, an underlying sense of nostalgia about all his works as though looking back into personal and collective histories can offer a meaningful perspective on our times and cultural mores as well as exploring the immense diversity and multiplicity of contemporary visual culture.
"Portrait of a Meme" was created for a show based on the humble clay cup. The character is a tea-seller whose image went viral when he was photographed by an American, and he subsequently became a supermodel. The canvas is made of crushed "chai bhaars" painted over in the image of that blue-eyed tea-seller. The artist moves away from a purely abstract or a diagrammatic image towards one that is richly associative. He conveys a sense of metamorphosis through changes of scale, texture and structure and articulates how a wholly visually form plays on numerous dichotomies that echo the dual origins of conception and its eventual material realization.