Architecture as a Façade – Reviewing Pooja Iranna’s show at The Guild, 2009

No doubt PoojaIranna’s paintings, photography and sculptural installations deploy architectural monumentality or the details of architecture, yet it would be difficult to say that her preoccupation is with the history of architectural studies, urbanism and/or alienation. Pooja, since her early days has been working with a consciousness towards eastern philosophy of viewing human beings endowed with enormous strength, the inside -emitting light. Hence, the surface of monumental built forms emitting light, are like human beings emblematic of strength that stands in resilience under the surreal sky, in her works.

In To My Kids with Love her earlier work with digital images and readable texts on boxes, she suggested the built-form as a typology of human growth or success. In her photographic works, she chooses the modernist typology of architecture, yet her intention is to view – the way she shoots, immanent landscapes emoting desertion and yet a possibility of inhabitance, or reconciliation with Nature. For this, her interest nearest to architecture would be organic forms like a tree, which shows slow growth and eventually an individualistic strength like human being. Yet her interest in architecture is not just a coincidence. Her childhood memories with her mother exposed her to many significant buildings in the city of Delhi constructed by her grandfather.

One could choose to see her works not as the ‘correct’ digital measurement that makes architectural photographic works possible or the sorry ‘dated’ modernist aesthetic…’ but the tactile quality of experiencing corners -which makes her paintings. Her paintings dramatically and subtly vocalize the tensions of divergence between two inmate individuals as two separate thoughts, and corners arrive edge to edge.

She works with a fine brush over a very large space to understand each follicle like each pixel, nourish them and nurture them in difference to reach in the end, what may appear like the sanctum, emitting light. Her paintings one may say ingrain an existential thought as one may map her journey from her early works To My Kids With Love, Metamorphical Mathematics-III to OfHuman Endeavour. In her sculptural executions, she recently delves into the fine lines in between the staple-packaging, as close to her fine brush strokes. The Confluence and Converging/Segregating series, in the titles itself contributes the meanings of edges half open and half close- interlocking and individuating, giving experiential or physical body to the pixels, a simultaneous viewing and executing of the micro and macro experiences of the monumental.

Pooja is able to inculcate a morphology of viewing the individual self in new-materials that she employs the staple pins, as what could be the new-material from third world? Along with her paintings. However, the significance of her sculptures lie in placing the fragile within the construct of architecture. Architecture is the ‘term’ which can stitch all her works together and yet it is the mere façade. Pooja asserts her term as ‘space’ from where she works (an overgrown metropolis Delhi) or gets socially placed as an artist (India), she accomplishes her task each day like an ant.

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About Author

Shubhalakshmi Shukla is a curator and art critic based in Mumbai. She completed her Masters in Visual Arts specializing in Art History from M.S. University in 1997 and has contributed to several journals and catalogues on Contemporary Indian Art.

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