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
Images: © Rob Dean Art