Unearthing the human psyche

Published By: 
The Navhind Times
Dated On: 
11th December 2021
Unearthing the human psyche

Of all the beings on Earth, man is the most creative, intelligent and weirdest creature created by God, believes artist Vitesh Naik.” Unlike other animals, he is gifted with a powerful brain and has numerous qualities which always push me to know him deeply. But the more I try to understand him, the less successful I am, I think. He is unpredictable.” he says.

Sometimes, he says, man can be beautiful, honest, romantic, but he can also be cruel, a liar, a betrayer, lonely, naughty, etc. “It is all this that attracts me to paint him non-stop,” says Naik, whose works of art seek to depict subjective reality as he likes to know these things more deeply in a true context. “I am more concerned with human emotions, expressions which bring more depth and meaning to the subject I want to deal with. Subjective reality allows me to connect to the soul of the character in the true,” he says.

His images, he says, can be viewed as mirror images of himself in various situations, moods and emotions. And always fascinated with his desire to create characters using the human body, he embellishes his works with symbolism that transforms these bodies into mystical and magical ones.

“Since my paintings are figurative, I try to unearth the different aspects of the human psyche like greed, hypocrisy, joy, doubts, etc. I love to show different gestures, expressions, moods of human figures which bring a kind of movement and dramatic feelings to the composition, “he says. By portraying the human figures in graphite against colourful and multi-design dresses, he attempts to bring out the parallel existence of good and bad, real and fake, dull and colourful.

Naik further explains that he uses metaphors and symbols to bring ore meaning and depth to the paintings. “This element adds some sort of depth and meaning to my art as they can be interpreted in many ways. So, every viewer can find the forms different and he is free to his imagination,” he says, adding that by using signs and metaphors, it creates suspense and adds mystery to the work. “My aim is to portray mysterious and ambiguous interpretations of emotions and ideas by using unrelated symbols.”

The use of bright colours on pitch black, grey tones also create visual depth and rhythm, he says. “Though most of the expressions are serious, distorted, these also have the ingredient of humour so that even common people can understand, enjoy and have fun. Through the facial gestures and other postures, I try to create dialogue between the viewer and the painting,” he says.

Besides human figures, Naik also depicts animals and birds to show the real bonding and dependence with each other along with other Goan elements.

The influence of his homeland Goa, is immediately seen in Naik’s paintings such as the Portuguese colonial heritage and its fusion with local traditions and customs to form multi-cultural and multi-dimensional images.

Some popular themes in the works are Goan taverns, markets and spaces encompassing drunkards, crowds chatting, gossip, richly dressed men, religious processions, Goan architecture and other social scenarios that unearth aspects of human psyche like hope, faith, greed, hypocrisy, joy, doubt, arrogance, and more.

“To be honest, colonial influence has created a huge impact on my art and heart, which has benefited me to show the uniqueness of Goan culture through the visual medium,” he says.

Also, he reveals, since his childhood, he has been closely observing the lifestyle, culture, tradition, beliefs and festivals of the Goan Christian community. “On many occasions I even attended their rituals, prayers and festivals, just out of curiosity to understand and to know the essence of their culture. These influences, over the period of time, came unknowingly into my art in some or the other way.”

“I was born and brought up in Goa, so I have immense respect and love for my state,” he adds. “I am always indebted to it for giving me enough freedom, visual wealth in the form of nature, culture, houses, cuisine, festivities, etc. Its uniqueness compared to the rest of India always inspires me to capture and paint every mood of the place.”

Among some of the motifs that shows up in his work are flowers, and Naik says that the addition of his has been influenced by a number of factors.

“Throughout the year in our celebration of festivals, flowers play an important role. Without flowers we cannot perform our rituals, pujas, ceremonies, and customs,” he says, adding that flowers are like friends who visit us in our happy and tragic times.

“I see flowers everywhere – at the altar, around the house, in the market. In fact, the striking feature of Goan houses is the creeper and vases of different flowers around the house. In my paintings, flowers always depict the qualities of happiness, cheerfulness, hope, positivity,” he says.

Naik also attributes his tenure in Kuwait, about 18 years ago, to the presence of flowers in his work. “Figurative art there had many restrictions and a lot of the work consisted of painting flowers, in different forms and styles. And over time it merged into my art so gradually that I never even realised it,” he says. He has since been incorporating it extensively in his work and people have appreciated it, he says.

(Mystical Body will remain on view at Carpe Diem, Majorda till January 31, 2022)