Human beings are just made up of all the pieces we collected over the years - imprints from our parents, things we love, things we can't stand, our friends, our dreams, and our fears. Our adult lives, we try to make sense of who we are through these pieces, trying to find ourselves and make the jigsaw puzzle make sense. Our greatest flaw is polishing the edges of these pieces to try to become someone we're not when those edges are what make us unique. Kolkata-based artist Viraj Khanna's work is rooted in capturing this mish-mash of identities.
As the son of celebrated Indian designer Anamika Khanna, Viraj grew up around textiles and embroidery which has imbibed a distinct artistic aesthetic that beautifully manifests in his creations. From the intricate world of embroidery and textiles, he seamlessly transitioned to the realms of paintings, sculptures, and collages, expressing similar concepts through diverse forms and architectures.
For Khanna, creativity is not an innate gift but a product of relentless effort and practice. Unfazed by unfamiliar materials and spaces, he delved into the realm of collage work, fusing snippets from magazines, articles, and encyclopedias to construct meaningful images and objects. This process gradually paved the way for his exploration of caricaturistic sculptural forms, with the initial inspiration always stemming from his collage endeavors, both with an underlying ethos of interpreting the absurdity of the human condition.
Khanna's artworks often depict the disruption in the natural flow of life, highlighting the deep-rooted imperfections inherent in our everyday existence. His art elegantly echoes the perpetual human pursuit of an elusive 'perfection,' often leading us to futile attempts at constructing an invulnerable facade. By visualizing the surreal experience that is existence, Viraj is able to create a comforting self-acceptance — of the parts of ourselves that we think are too odd to show others.
With an experimental approach to his craft, Khanna creates intricate paper collages, drawing from a diverse array of sources like encyclopedias, magazines, and newspapers. These figurative collages serve as a reflection of the human condition, emphasizing the profound influence of societal constructs on individuals. Moreover, these collages act as a blueprint for his sculptures and experimental textile pieces, weaving a cohesive narrative that delves into the complex interplay between the self and society. These collages are also done as acrylic paintings on paper and as textile patterns that have often appeared in apparel by Anamika Khanna.
Amidst the artist's textiles, collages and sculptures, a profound realization shines through - an individual's identity is a tapestry woven from the threads of their experiences, interactions, and the profound influence of the society they inhabit. Through his art, he illuminates the beauty found within the unique imperfections that define us all.