Celebrated for his exquisite contemporary works of sculptural design, New Delhi-based Vikram Goyal blends his cultural heritage with a modern sense of drama. Beyond traditional Indian motifs, however, Goyal’s visual lexicon incorporates elements of such diverse movements as Brutalism, 1960s and 70’s Psychedelic art, Art Deco, and Art Nouveau and Moderne. His prolific and eclectic body of work, while exhibiting a range of stylistic aesthetics, remains deeply rooted to Indian materials and craftsmanship.
Reflecting on current trends, Goyal remarks, “A lot of design and architecture today is very derivative….Today, houses are looking like airport lounges, and it is sad because we have such a history, such a legacy, and so much individuality in India, so its a shame. The physical ‘mixing’ or juxtaposition of objects and styles comes quite instinctively to me. I follow no diktat or formula.”
Precisely, it is his perspicacity of details, proportion, and harmony, in concert with his innate sense of opulence that have ensured Goyal’s reputation as a maker of modern classics.
Goyal grew up in New Delhi, India’s heritage-rich capital. After studying engineering at Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Pilani, he moved to the US to study development economics at Princeton University, ultimately working finance in the US and Hong Kong. In 2000 he returned to India to create a wellness brand, before eventually starting his own design practice. Though his initial designs were heavily indebted to Indian aesthetics and traditional motifs, with elements of Mughal architecture as well as geometric and floral patterns common in Tantric Imagery, eventually Goyal’s inspiration widened, incorporating global and historical influences.
Throughout Goyal has been committed to preserving and promoting the indigenous techniques and heritage of India with a focus on responsible practices. He is the recipient of multiple design awards. In 2019, the Bikaner House, the New Delhi’s cultural hub, mounted a fifteen year retrospective of Goyal’s work.
While his output has generally been presented within distinct “collections,” there is a common thread throughout the work that is dictated by his self-imposed limitation, or rather, dedication of material. Primarily working with brass (and occasionally precious stones like lapis and malachite) Goyal exploits the polymorphous versatility of the material through classical techniques – forging, hammering, and inlay – resulting in infinite varieties of form, surface, and color. In terms of form, Goyal tends to favor the table, the most essential and straightforward furniture structure.
As Goyal’s works have evolved there is less concern for categorization and less disjunction between styles, with each new work sitting capably between myriad styles. Curvilinear lines, typical in Art Nouveau are maximized until they achieve a prodigious scale akin to the brutalist architectural monuments prevalent in Eastern Europe. While a console may have the rigidly stepped planes and fluting found in Art Deco design (which had a strong presence in Mumbai), Goyal breaks the symmetry, opting for a rambling composition that has more in common with 1960s psychedelic illustration and design artists like Peter Max and Heinz Edelmann (both of whom borrowed heavily from Art Nouveau).
There is a tremendous quality to Goyal’s works that informs their own commanding awesomeness, but that is never at the expense of spirited playfulness. What may be bold and monolithic is equally exuberant and fluid. It is specifically this tight-rope act that makes Goyal part historian, part alchemist, and part master artist.