An artist dressed as ‘Princess Pea’ had many curious visitors making a beeline for her at the just-concluded India Art Fair in New Delhi.
At the just concluded India Art Fair in New Delhi, there sat Princess Pea in a bright yellow coloured spaceship-like structure doling out gifts to those who gave in to curiosity to get a peek into her world. But let us clear at the onset that not all but a selectfew — of which I was one of them — were recipients of the gifts. Some had to do with just a sprouted pea. I was lucky to get a candy and a pea both and those who had spent hours in filling a form — which would be inserted into the ‘P.O. Box’, eventually got an audience with Princess Pea through a peep hole.
Now who is Princess Pea? An artist who has developed a character called Princess Pea which is actually her alter ego. In the art world, the artist is just Princess Pea who wears a pea-shaped head over a petite frame. It was in 2009 at India Art Summit (as India Art Fair was known then) that Princess Pea first walked around in the open. “People wanted to touch me, see if it was for real. Some people thought and still think that I have lost it but this is the way I choose to express my concerns,” says the artist, who passed out of Delhi College of Art in 2005 where she pursued a graduate and a master’s degree in painting.
Taking a cue out of her personal life, she created Princess Pea. “While growing up, I noticed how people were so conscious of the differences in the appearances of mine and my sister’s. That my sister weighed more was a concern and that I weighed too less was also a concern. That set me thinking about issues like perfection, identity, self-worth and I told my sister that I will take your head on my body. And since it is about identity, I will never reveal my name, my face. I don’t want people to know that ‘she’ is the one who is Princess Pea,” says the Gurgaon-based artist, adding that the name she has taken on is an equally significant element in the scheme of things. “The princess stands for our idea of perfection. A princess is expected to do certain things in a certain manner.”
Even in her paintings (natural pigments on silk), which merge the visual vocabulary of the miniature tradition with the contemporary world, the character of Princess Pea remains a constant. But what if she one day feels done with the subject of identity and self-worth and decide to move on to newer issues? “I don’t think that’s going to happen ever. I can continue to look at the world through her. The character can evolve, the performances can evolve but it won’t vanish.” In fact, her work with Princess Pea and around it is only growing. She plans to do Princess Pea’s wooden balls, introduce new characters like Baby O, stage more performances.
“Even with this project, all these cards which have been filled out by people might lead to another project. I will document all these cards on which people have written really interesting stuff, like “I want to be Matilda”, or “I want to be the rabbit of Lijjat papad. Some of them made really nice drawings on it. So I might just write to them and send a gift.”
In any case, she is planning to make Princess Pea more visible. “All these years, I was pre-occupied with a lot of things on my personal front and also I was trying to gauge public’s response to something like this but slowly I will start giving more performances,” reveals the artist who is represented by art gallery Exhibit 320.
Coming up soon is a solo by Princess Pea.