Inks and Tones Won't Break My Bones

This new body of work explores and questions the notions of what is digital and what is analogue, in an increasingly media processed world. It is harder to be able to isolate and identify categories of work, and in a world that is also becoming more collaborative, it is difficult to pin-point where one’s creations starts and ends. And in a world where algorithm driven social media has defined and deepened lines of division, the lines between what is real, and what is fake, what is is opinion and what is fact, has blurred.

The body of work, Inks and Tones won’t Break My Bones, is created in my studio, where there is zero collaboration and everything is hand done by just me. But the end work is digitally printed (again by me in the studio) and this digital presentation ends up framing and undermining all the analogue, manual and digital work that went into making the final product. Layers of prints, collages, digital collages, drawings, watercolours, inks, prints of prints layered together, and so on and so forth, create a very unending trove of material with which I work to create end images, all the while keeping firm to my core aesthetic. The end result, often printed on Japanese washi paper, though sometimes on high quality digital print paper, are unique non-editioned works, again bringing to the fore the question of whether this is duplicable digital or more traditional analog, or something mutant in between. Keeping this mutant identity in mind, I let new strains of variations evolve using these building blocks and proceeding to make sub bodies of work, like this one using digital collages of multilayered manual process.

Vir Kotak


What is it that I am persistently pursuing? And why and how? A line, a block of colour, a word, or a texture?

These are the points of the polygon of my practice, and I restlessly jump between media to try and cover them all, back and forthing, left and righting, to simultaneously occupy one, and then another, and then all together.

My practice does start with digital imagery and therein lies a skill I revel in. As hackneyed as this line is, I don't think of my self as a photographer, but as an image creator. Again, here I allow myself a play between a dichotomy. On the one hand, I create. From large scale installations whose sole purpose is to be captured that one time, to waypoints in the randomness of a drawing or a painting. From composites of stray thoughts and discards to compositions of carefully constructed maquettes. On the other hand, I cull images from the banal around me. But regardless of the provenance, I need to present the image in a way that masks, de-contextualises and re-presents it in a completely pristine way.

Graphite, ink, pencil, watercolor, oil, or on a bigger scale, steel and ceramic - these aren't core skills, but essential expressions of my pursuits and what I spend most of my time on. A video, a collage or a book set, each adds a layer of meaning. And all of these allow for more material that I can digitally appropriate and from those appropriations, create new imagery once again.

While my practice is a product of the digital age, it's tools and its sentiments keep harking back to an analogous past where textures and rawness are visible and keep seeping in. An important corner of the polygon of my practice, texture, is explored and presented in multiple ways. I believe material - both physical and conceptual, especially paper and text, are sensuous, and in my work their appearance and character are celebrated as such.

When I look at my practice I see an dogged evolution and dynamic lateral movements seeking a quiet, almost minimalist end-point.

Vir Kotak

Vir Kotak