Indian multimedia artist Viraag Desai’s modus operandi involves artistic expeditions, charting unexplored territories at the nexus of art and technology. His latest exhibit, Pathfinder, is a mesmerizing digital experience that blurs the boundaries between the physical and virtual worlds, captivating audiences with its immersive allure.
Pathfinder came to the limelight when it was awarded the prestigious Julius Baer Next Generation Art Prize, where Viraag Desai stood tall as one of the six distinguished winners. This prestigious accolade, bestowed by the leading Swiss wealth management group, Julius Baer, seeks to champion contemporary talent in the ever-evolving art landscape. The winners, chosen by an esteemed jury comprising acclaimed international artists, curators, and art specialists, represent the vanguard of creativity and innovation.
Desai's artistic journey is one characterized by versatility and experimentation. From a young age, he found solace in drawing and painting, cultivating a passion that would ultimately lead him to pursue dual majors in Design and Fine Arts at the renowned School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Embracing the technical realm of new media art, he ventured into digital sculpting, forging a unique artistic sensibility that merges intricacy with striking visual narratives.
At the heart of Pathfinder lies an ambitious vision to create an interactive video that mirrors the grandeur of religious sites' art and architecture. However, in a departure from convention, Desai's thematic focus is not on the deities or monarchs but on the unsung heroes—the workers and craftsmen who bring these masterpieces to life. With motion sensors and virtual reality as his artistic tools, Desai forges a captivating digital experience that transports viewers to the awe-inspiring ambiance of these sacred spaces.
The artist's signature style revolves around the amalgamation of contrasting elements, deftly marrying geometric precision with organic abstraction. Each element in his work is meticulously crafted, allowing for multiple layers of interpretation with every viewing. Drawing inspiration from emerging online cultures, simulations, and figuration, Desai weaves a visual tapestry that transcends traditional boundaries, beckoning audiences into a realm of boundless creativity.
The role of artists in society has always been pivotal, as they have and continue to serve as agents of the avant-garde during their times, pushing the boundaries of materials, techniques, and ideas. Desai embraces this role with unwavering commitment, consistently exploring new mediums and experimenting with novel artistic directions.
Beyond the Julius Baer Art Prize project, Desai's recent creative journey also included exhibiting an installation titled Offerings of the Earth and Sea at Rhizome, an exhibition at the revered Chhatrapati Shivaji Vastu Sangrahalaya (Museum). In this showcase, the artist created a 3D digitally printed resin sculpture of an Indian deity using tulsi, jasmine, kataki and other such offerings-foliage, creating a commentary on ecology, bio-culture, divinity, mythology, and iconography.
"Pathfinder" has been created with the support of esteemed mentors from the art and technology space in South Asia. The intersection of art and technology takes center stage in Desai’s exhibit as digital sculpting reaches new heights, providing an immersive experience like no other.
Click here to experience the virtual showcase.
Follow Viraag Desai here.
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