Waswo X. Waswo with R. Vijay
Waswo X. Waswo is an artist, writer and photographer who was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the USA, but has lived and exhibited in India for over twenty years. His works, while immediately accessible to the viewer at the same time contained multiple layers of meaning. Waswo poetically interprets narratives into rich and symbolic visuals with the help of the skilled traditional painter R. Vijay.
R. Vijay (born Rakesh Vijayvargiya) is the grandnephew of the historic Rajasthani painter Ramgopal Vijayvargiya. Rakesh was tutored by traditional miniaturists such as Sukdev Singh Sisodiya and Laxmi Narayan Sikaligar.
The duo’s fifteen-year long collaboration blends genres and plays intelligently on themes from history and colonialism interwoven with contemporary identities. In the paintings, Waswo as the bumbling protagonist observed and embraced by Indians is the theme of many of the works, which transcend and focus on issues of otherness. Waswo and Vijay extend their visual vocabulary to a style reminiscent of Mughal miniature paintings, Mewar court miniatures, and the Company School paintings. Their miniatures are multi-layered and dense in narrative, with exquisite detailing. Part confessional and part comical, these miniatures are semi-autobiographical, where Waswo’s persona as the white-skinned “fedora man” becomes both problematic and poignant.