THE PEA OUT OF THE POD

Review by Amrita Varma
September 15, 2014

 

Pecked Jostled And Teased
Princess Pea
September 5 to October 10, 2014 
Exhibit 320, Lado Sarai, New Delhi

Princess Pea’s (the artist lives in her alter ego in the gallery space) first solo show at Exhibit 320 is not just an exhibition, it is a site. A site where she has explored her identity very dexterously yet playfully to bring very clear messages across. The whole scene is active and playful without a single soul stirring. It is magical to see the objects come to life with the little toaster at one end and the printer at the other as they grow out light green effervescent bubbles. 
 
When one steps into the gallery one feels transformed into another zone with the first image of cushions on a scooter. There are stuffed toys and then there are the artworks on the walls, there are photographs and sculptural artwork along with a big yellow octagonal structure within which one is invited to go and shout, be free move around and scream their lungs out and with it their worries and stresses that life brings by. It's a playful child’s world. But there is more.
 
It is her world. It slowly seeps in as our world too. A very delicately created world, where the artist’s alter ego explores her identity as a human and a woman in this day and age. The works on the walls look like a modern day version of miniature paintings with a flavor of the visual style of the video games depicting Princess Pea living her day-to-day life. On closer look one enters it feeling as if one has stepped into her inner space. As the first layer of playfulness peels off one sees the serious issues and conflicts of a woman in the social context of society today.
 
The stuffed toys hanging on the walls portray a dreamlike quality but one is jerked to reality with them having no faces. In an instant the carefree nature of the installation changes to that of a deep sense of loss- a loss of all the missing children who have been snatched away from their homes and loved ones.
As one looks at the daily objects with the bright green bubble clusters one feels the need to explore and wonder on who used those objects leaving their imprints and lived a large part of their lives through them.
 
The identity of the woman is further explored in the dolls giving them the dignity they deserve as humanity. In all this the tone is not of victimization but the movement towards empowerment and belief in the self, which the artist brings out beautifully through the works.
 
The sculptural installation  ‘you are worth it’ is made from old found jewelry used a decade or two ago where women would rent this wedding jewelry for their marriages. It is as if their hopes and aspirations of the life ahead are encased in it where most of those dreams and hopes were crashed by the harsh reality of male female relations and its bias. Those same relics stand now giving a sense of deservability where none existed before, giving validity to every dream and hope empowering one to bring it about.
 
In the inner room, through the sheer curtains, one glimpses at the Princess Pea boudoir, a very private space where her feminine clothing is hung and is strewn. There is a television lying in front of a chair and as one romanticizes of the feminine nature of this space one sees the aggressive marks of the expressions of Princess Pea on the wall through line drawings and the light dawns. Feminity does not devoid one of a feeling of an equal space in the world as a person. She has allowed one to enter her private space of her own free will that is to be appreciated and not taken for granted. There is a sense of beauty and respect in that.
 
The works in the exhibit resound with a lighthearted playfulness, which layer the various undertones of human relations. In identifying the subverted, in a gently yet firmly spelt out tone where one is not dragged down by the weight of it but learns to understand the nuances and perhaps by relating closer to it, there develops a sense of the need to transform those events and issues naturally towards a better world.
 
This is one of the first few solos, which is an astounding effort from an emerging artist to put up art, which has integrity and connects with the people. The maturity of the works and the depth of conceptualising art with which Princess Pea has brought this exhibit about is praiseworthy in the way art relates to the self and human life and its relevance to the world we live in.
 

(Top) Draupadi, 13” X 4” X 4”, Natural Pigments on Wood; (Above)Red Queen, 13” X 4” X 4”, Natural Pigments on Wood