Rithika Pandey

I’m a contemporary visual artist from Mumbai, India but I’ve had a fairly nomadic childhood. My father’s job across the African continent exposed my family and I to vibrant cultures and traditions bouncing off the warmth of the community. Born in the holiest city for Hindus, Varanasi, holistically developed my mind to inherently look and absorb cultures and traditions and associate them to symbols and the coherent visual languages. I believe the development of my personality as an artist, perhaps, stems from the deep understanding of these surreal topological placements of self where the mental and physical boundaries blur to form unique languages spoken by the subconscious.

Please can you explain the process and meaning behind the design submitted for the collaboration?

Safe zone underground is a special piece because it came out of my increased sensitivity to personal dissociation from the world. It was attempt to visualise human/animal relationships in a possible post-human surreality.

I think it’s extremely relevant in our times right now, because it not only resonates with those displaced and persecuted in search of safety but for all of us facing a microscopic, diabolical force through our personal safe zones.

Your work is often composed of individual powerful elements complied into a singular design. Please can you explain the relation of these to the paintings?

Every element is powerful in its own individual standing, of course – But they somehow come together cohesively and also fall apart like virtual particles at the event horizon of a Blackhole. This leads to the usage of flamboyant colours that makes them sing and flow like poetry in a prose. One of key elements to my paintings alongside the often ambiguously formed creatures, are the ‘Bloomdidos’ (named after a Charlie Parker piece) the feminine protagonists that exist in many anthropomorphic and biomorphic states; they tend to hold all the other symbolic elements in orbit and maybe that contributes to a powerful singular narrative. 

Where do you draw your main influences from?

Haruki Murakami – For allowing me to float on the spiritual realm and nurture the flow of thought which manifests as my paintings. 
Bon Iver – For the perennial sense of love that emanates from the collection of sounds and the words that support them. 
Ancient Hindu Mythologies – To help me understand the power of storytelling through colours and the subjectivity of its narrative. 

My curiosity for Astrophysics and the evolution of biological beings helped me discover the portrait that the universe painted for us all billions of years ago and how we’re all Scientists contributing to the existence of our vibrations in space time. My influences also arise from the quiet moments of solitude on a Wednesday afternoon or the green tea on a Saturday evening. The same moments that help me overcome the obstacles that we tend to create by unintentionally keeping extreme expectations with one self. 

You recently mentioned you were working on a body of work on diasporic identity and belonging in a spatial and psychological sense with relation to contemporary social issues surrounding immigrants and refugees. Please can you share some more information about this?

The contemporary socio political crisis surrounding refugees and immigrants, vulnerably trying to accommodate themselves within the persistent colonial climate of the west is a problem that is complexly intertwined in the shadows of history and the looming future. The human condition, as it evolved through growth in conscious experience wasn’t perhaps designed to go through such psycho-physical trauma under the suffocating grip of power hungry eccentricity and distorted value systems that is contemporary politics. Women, more often than not, are greatly victimised on bodily and mental dimensions by this. 

I’m working towards building a creative practice that is also a social responsibility to somehow cultivate empathy, by experiencing art, between and within communities, bridge divides formed through biases fuelled by sickening influence of mass media. Displacement is an impediment in mental health, because intelligent bodies are interconnected with physical environment through intangible threads linked to our individual, and collective mental spaces. This threshold is crucial in the development of human experience and my art is an attempt to make these linkages visible and also blur their boundaries using surreal narratives that have a cosmic corporeality.

Any plans for the future you would like to share?

I’m looking forward to adapting to the new changes heading my way. I’m figuring out new mediums and manners of distributing artistic information and narratives- through books and zines, furniture, films, VR, fashion? Who knows? The possibilities seem infinite.

Our collaboration with Rithika Pandey

Created in support of Refugee Action, an independent national charity founded that provides advice and support to refugees and asylum seekers in the UK and campaigns for a fairer asylum system.

Learn more

Rithika Pandey’s Website


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