The 'Other Art' of Vallery Puri
by Srimati Lal
Artist, Writer, Columnist & Curator
by Suneet Chopra,
Art Critic, Writer
Right on Course
by Keshav Malik
Vallery Puri is an urban artist whose art reflects many aspects of our modern urban environment that blends multi-storeyed blocks of flats, huddled villas and gardens full of exotic flowers, birds and butterflies with incongruous elements like stray cattle, jammed roads and epic gods and goddesses that share our daily lives with their human quirks and foibles that give them a familiarity which only epic heroes have.
This familiarity is reflected also in a figurative style that takes off from the caricature, giving her art the quality of Euro-American Pop art or Japanese Manga paintings that use familiar comic book characters in a two-dimensional frame to create a full-fledged contemporary art statement. In her work too, the figures from popular imagery are an inviting entry into a dream world of colour, line and texture.
The bright colours she uses are reminiscent of the folk art of Haiti and Latin American popular art in which colours constitute a visual rhythmic element that makes the figures and lines throb with life. These rhythms give her works an authenticity while the caricatures allow for a familiar note to be struck while viewing them.
Hers is a globalised popular artistic expression. It is well-executed, bright and brimming with the joy of life. As such it serves us well in uncertain times with the familiar comforts of a dream world of exotic birds, butterflies and beetles interspersed with suburban villas, high rise buildings and streets jammed with traffic and India’s 1.2 billion people in all their variety.
But the artistic quality that permeates her work is her capacity to harmonize so many different figures, colours and environments into bigger and bigger units that finally cover the canvas as a whole like wild flowers in a meadow or moss on rocks welding their hard surface in soft structures that give one a sense of joy without losing out on the incongruities of life that go into making them what they are.
The strength of these works is in the way the artist has internalised the different elements of the environment that surround us in mega cities. They partly devour the countryside and partly refurbish it in their own image in a manicured mis-en-scene that still has to accept crowded streets and spaces with stray cattle in its concession to brute reality. And it is the artist’s capacity to tie them up in ribbons of colour that allows them to co-exist as a homogenised whole, giving them their special appeal.
Art Critic, Writer.