Princess with principles
Gurgaon artist Princess Pea is fighting for the girl child with her wooden toys
Her big green eyes hide her identity and add to the curiousity. Be it at art fairs or exhibitions, a giant head always covers the face of Gurgaon-based artist Princess Pea.
The name is based on the artist and her sister (who is physically the opposite of her), the sister being the pumpkin and she, the tiny pea. “As an artist, I always wanted to question the vocabulary of the medium and was interested in the performance element of it.
Through the alter ego, and the anonymity it gives me, I get immense space and pleasure. Sometimes, being silent is the best. I felt that with this face, I can say more and make people think a lot more. Today, every girl must have experienced staring and harassment — I am no different!” she shares in an email interview.
Princess Pea, Fall and Rise, wooden sculptures, December 2015. Pics courtesy/Princess Pea
The head symbolises many things, from perceptions of female beauty and identity to the expectations that come with them. It’s like a life-sized doll that is pretty to look at but can’t talk, smell or see. At the India Art Fair held last month in Delhi, she presented a limited edition of wooden toy sculptures made by wooden toy makers of Etikoppaka from Andhra Pradesh.
Princess Pea and with a craftsman in Etikoppaka, December 2015. As part of the series, she will release more sculptures through the year
Called Fall and Rise, the toys are an extension of her image. When pushed from beneath, the figure collapses and when released, it bounces back and stands upright. “I am always interrogating the medium; this is a step in that direction. It will continue my exploration of ideas surrounding women’s identity and rights. The toys interrogate the idea of perfection, where the study of the proportions in a human figure is a common study in art schools. For the first work, I was interested in the idea of strength and decided on toy soldiers,” she reveals.
The artist began researching the wooden human figurine (the basis of the sculptures, used by art students to draw body movements) in 2011. Four years later, she reached out to the craftsmen to help her with the production. Another issue that she wishes to address is mass production, and in order to revive basic crafts, she used locally-sourced wood. “The process of crafting a simple wood piece into a sculpture is sublime; one can feel the energy and love, gone into its making,” she says.
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