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 are immediately accessible to the viewer while at the same time containing layers of meaning. Waswo poetically transfers 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 historic Rajasthani painter Ramgopal Vijayvargiya. Rakesh was tutored by traditional miniaturists Sukdev Singh Sisodiya and Laxmi Narayan Sikaligar.
The duo’s fifteen-year long collaboration blends genres and plays intelligently on themes interwoven from history, colonialism, and contemporary identities. In the paintings, Waswo, as the bumbling protagonist who is observed and embraced by Indians, becomes the subject of the work. Issues of Otherness, and the transcendence of the same, becomes a focal point. Waswo and Vijay extend their visual vocabulary to a style reminiscent of Mughal Miniature Paintings, Mewar Court Miniatures, and The Company School. 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.