Many many years ago (before National highways were built) in a far
off land full of sparkling rivers, crystal lakes and lush jungles there
lived a King. He was an odd sort of a King because unlike other Kings
he didn’t like to go to war, or to steal land from his neighbours, or
to send soldiers to raise the taxes from his subjects, or to hunt wild
animals, he didn’t even worry about the stock market because he was
happy. He was happy because early every morning he left his palace
to walk to a quiet lake to watch the sun rise. As the mist rose from
the lake, animals would appear on the far bank and drink the water.
First the monkeys would come swinging from the branches, then the
spotted deer and then the wild boar, sometimes the king would see a
panther and sometimes a tiger and many little creatures whose names
he didn’t even know (if the truth be told he had never paid much
attention in biology class) but although he enjoyed watching all the
animals in the jungle he always waited for one animal to come to the
lake, an elephant. This elephant was hard to miss because he was so
big, the ground would shake as he walked through the jungle, but when
he got to the lake because he was a considerate pachyderm he would
wait his turn and (at about a quarter to eight) once all the other
animals had bathed (at about a quarter to eight) he would throw mud
across his back, slide into the water and blow bubbles through his
trunk, and the king felt happy because like him this royal beast took
great pleasure in the simplest of pastimes and bothered nobody…
One day at the end of the monsoon when the King left his palace to
walk to the lake his youngest daughter followed him. As she was only
three he didn’t notice her following him through the long grass and so
he walked to his lake and sat on the bank to wait for the animals to
arrive but as he waited it began to rain and since it was monsoon it
rained harder and harder and so he hurried home unaware that his
daughter was still following him, but as it rained harder the little
princess couldn’t keep up and suddenly she was completely lost so she
sat down under a tree and cried…When the king arrived home he went
to have his breakfast of toast and jam (because he didn’t like idlis)
but when he got to the dining room his wife was looking very worried
– ‘we cant find princess pea’, she said, ‘we’ve looked
everywhere’…and so the king sent out search parties but nobody could
find her in the palace and then much to their surprise the gardener’s
boy came and said ‘your Majesty I thought you knew I saw her following
you through the gardens and along the jungle path to the lake’. So the
king rushed to the lake worrying all the way if a tiger or a crocodile
might have eaten his beloved daughter but as he approached the lake he
couldn’t see very much at all as it was raining so hard, but then
quite unexpectedly the rain stopped (as it so often does at the end
of the monsoon) and a beautiful rainbow arched across the lake,
where (as it was about ten to eight) the king could see the elephant
bathing and blowing bubbles through his trunk and giggling which was
odd (as elephants don’t giggle) but the king was too worried about his
daughter to think a giggling elephant strange until the elephant moved
and he saw that it wasn’t the elephant that was giggling but a very
wet and bedraggled princess catching bubbles on the shore.
The king rushed to his daughter and hugged her and thanked the
elephant for looking after her and he asked the elephant if there was
anything he could do to repay him but the elephant shook his head and
kept blowing bubbles. So every day the king and and the princess
would go together to visit the elephant and bring fresh †sugar cane
for him to eat (as elephants don’t much like idlis for breakfast
either) and for many years this went on until the princess grew up and
had to go to school and then university in a far off town so she saw
the elephant less and less….
Then one day as she pondered differential equations a smallcreature
called Mr.Fly ( a long time acquaintance and friend who had always helped
solve her problems, especially in her dreams) buzzed in her ear,’Come
quickly your friend by the lake has disappeared. So she left her studies and
returned home to the palace, but when she got there to her surprise the
lake was nearly dry, the jungle all around had been chopped down for
firewood. No monkeys came, no deer came and no boars came to the
puddle of water that once was the lake (but even though it was well past
eight o’clock ) there was no sign of her friend Mr Bojangles the elephant.
Only the smallest of creatures (whose names even after university the
princess didn’t know) were there, so she asked them ‘but where are the
bigger animals’ and so the little creatures who crawled and flapped †and
bounced along took her along dusty tracks far from the palace where the
last of the jungle remained and the last clear pond was left and there she
saw many more animals drinking from the pond but still no elephant
because even this pond was too small for the elephant.
So the Princess rushed home and told her father (who was now too old
to walk to the lake) what she had seen and he was sad but he said ‘my
dear I am too old to solve this problem you must do it yourself’. So
the Princess travelled the world looking for people to help and she
found many people who loved the animals in the forest and they came
together with clever ideas to save water around the kingdom, to plant
more trees, ways to save the jungle and many monsoons passed and the
trees grew and water filled the lake and when the Princess felt very
sad she blew bubbles to remind her of her friend. Then one day at the
end of the monsoon as she was walking to the lake a rainbow filled the
sky and suddenly a huge bubble landed on her nose and she knew her
elephant had returned and she was happy and there he sat in the lake
quietly blowing bubbles.
10 Emerging Indian Artists – Veerangana Solanki
The World of Princess Pea treads a fine line between the world of fairytale and the mundane.
The broad scope of her art challenges perceptions about our conceived notions of the self and identity.
As Princess Pea,the artist presents to the world her alter ego in the form of a ‘living doll’ an anime style
figure that can neither talk, smell nor see. Through her contemporary art practices, Princess Pea brings to the forefront international issues of tradition, identity, celebrities with an underlying satire on global concerns while distorting perceptions, and is based in New Delhi, India.
Despite what H.C Andersen might have said, the story of Princess Pea didn’t start with royalty.
Bad news: just as you’ve recovered from finding out why Santa always wore uncle George’s glasses, SUPERSWEET’s Emmi Ojala is about to spit out another gruesome fact. Get ready to be traumatized, for the princess who slept on the pea did not wake up, marry and live happily ever after – at least not in the world of art. To find out who she actually is, Emmi takes her spy kit and investigates Princess Pea.
Despite what H.C Andersen might have said, the story of Princess Pea didn’t start with royalty. In fact, it all started with a skinny Indian girl who had an extraordinarily large head. Having grown up with the beauty ideals of Holly and Bollywood, she had always felt out of place with her odd proportions. Nonetheless, she did not become hopeless. Instead, the little large-headed girl decided to do what anyone in her situation would have done: develop a pea-like alter ego and conquer the world by creating one of her own. She transformed into an artist called Princess Pea, partnered with Rob Dean Art and is now known for putting up a tongue-in-cheek fight against commerciality of fashion industry.
The artwork of Princess Pea portrays fractions of the world where she is the star and head enlargements the most desired cosmetic surgeries. In that world, she poses on covers of top fashion magazines and dates Brad Pitt. Next to playing around with the concepts of popular culture, Princess Pea’s work gives also an ironically intricate view on the science of perfection questioning the relationship between traditional and contemporary views on beauty. She had made art out of fact sheets and shows mathematical formulas for the ideal pea-like shape and proportion of head and facial features – perfect heart shape and eyes big and wide with fat injected under the lashes. On another sheet she goes under the surface defining the anatomical layers of her alter ego starting with Aura Celebritalis, “a natural and undefinable air of celebrity that often appears to glow at parties”. Layer by layer, she goes all the way to the Emotional core full of fluid creative impulses without forgetting the fiber glass layer protecting oneself from the cruelty of life.
The influence of her Indian origins and the dialogue between the traditional and global gives Princess Pea’s work an extra dimension that observes the local beauty beliefs. The artist has placed her alter ego within the Indian culture portraying her as the Indian Mona Lisa and making a non-traditional feature on the traditional paintings.
Princess Pea’s approach to the distorted paradigms of beauty and fashion is most definitely entertaining. The colourful art pieces with elephant parades, bubbles and references to Betty Boob are far from gloomy, and the humour injected in between the lines ensures no-one leaves the exhibition with a feel of anxiety. Even the tears of teenage angst have been hardened into radiant crocodile tears hanging on the wall. However, thanks to the mind niblets and blunt criticism towards superficiality hidden in her work, Princess Pea proves to be an artist with a point. And who wouldn’t like points, when they’re served with peas?
Words: Emmi Ojala