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Pooja Iranna’s art explores architectural spaces and complex human psyche
Through her introspective work, Pooja Iranna presents manmade structures that allude to human beings, their mind, emotions, and expressions sans physical existence.

Having grown up in the heart of a teeming metropolis during her formative years, she never realized how the surroundings were pervading her thought processes and turned the prime medium of her visual expression. To begin with, she underlined the chaos of urban life, metaphorically addressing both the fragility and beauty of human relationships. She explored her artistic space and surface, to employ a wide array of mediums on paper. Over time, the artist has reverted to two different techniques – photography and watercolor paintings. The former lets her capture reality instantly to further enhance it with her own expression, whereas watercolors help use her senses to the best of her artistic ability. In building her photographical works the subject that excites her is architecture - old and new.

The talented artist has been referencing and deciphering the manmade structures close to two decades. Revealing her artistic inclinations, she has said: “I usually travel to places to take these images. I seldom take images at random, and rather visualize how a particular frame would be used before I click. These are then worked upon on the computer to impart them with unique visual idiom. My watercolors revolve around the same vocabulary. There is an intermingling of nature and manmade structures to create spaces. These represent strength of structure on the surface and vigor of human convictions at the subconscious level. One has to imbibe a lot in order to pour back and each time I feel that I’ve said enough, some moving experience excites me to give back something new to myself and the world.”

Born in New Delhi in 1969, she completed M. F. Arts (Painting) from College of Art, New Delhi (1995) and received the Charles Wallace India Trust Award in 2002. Among her selected solos are 'Of Human Endeavor: The Super Exposed City and the New Possibilities of Space' at The Guild, Mumbai (2009); 'Metamorphic Mathematics' (2003-04); 'Reflections', Wimbledon School of Art, London (2002); ‘House Of Cards', Art Inc, Delhi (1999); 'Paper Works', Shridharani Gallery, Delhi (1996). She has featured in a number of group exhibitions this year, including 'Love to Live', Palette Art Gallery, Delhi; 'A. SYCO', The Viewing Room, Mumbai; 'Invisible Cities', Aicon Gallery, New York; 'Size Matters or Does it?', Latitude 28, Delhi; 'India Rising: Tradition Meets Modernity', courtesy Ati Art Gallery.

The latest exhibition of her works, entitled 'In the waves and underneath', at Palette Art Gallery incorporates different mediums - drawings, canvases, video, and sculptures made of staple pins. An accompanying note by Ina Puri mentions: “There is no medium she does not wish to explore at this point but the magnificence of the work can only be understood when one looks at the original work. She has been working in many mediums to explore her buildings and spaces outside and inside. She has extensively worked with paper and has also used photographical imagery as a powerful mode of expression over the years.

“Pooja Iranna remains grounded to her architectural spaces, exploring the possibilities with which humans have extended their creative mind. She as an artist believes that we have reached our zenith when it comes to expressing our ingenuity. There is no stone unturned as humans have successfully managed to use their cultural and technical knowhow along with positive energies, to conceive the unthinkable. Here she goes beyond the human genius and beauty of the spaces created. There is a twist to all the tales she expresses. Everything is not to be seen at the surface level. There are hidden notions behind every wall and the heavy texture. The not so straight partitions and the visible curvatures all denote the concealed part of life.”

The crux of the matter here is that life/surfaces/spaces do have in-built twists and turns, but it all depends on the human mind and its intrinsic strength of how one responds to them. Bringing out the essence of her work, critic Deeksha Nath mentions in an essay, “It is not so implausible to consider poetry, architecture and art together, for their interest with form, their usage of meter or structure, and their stance toward their environments. They involve our perception and how that perception is translated into a created, or built, environment. The artist inserts into this triangulation us - human beings, the creators and receptors of such activities. It (the human presence) is not the central visual character of her work but present more in essence, a viewer whose awareness of self gets heightened by the lack of others.”

As is evident, Pooja Iranna’s intense exploration of the complex human psyche has been a long-standing one. In her formative years, she has witnessed the ultimate submission of a generation grappling with the demands of a consumerist society, its hopes and dreams of the past now consigned to memory. A messy tangle of multi-storied skyscrapers replacing a spangle of minarets and tomes that once dotted the cityscape has made its imprint in her conscious memory. The architectural spaces seem to strike a balance with the human condition.

In her pictorial realm, images that surface from past and current times capture her impressions of the city she terms her home, and its metamorphosis into a metascape she can now barely recognize. Standing at the edge of this precipice -, part-real, part-fantasy - the feeling of cosmic loneliness and the inevitable spectre of ‘a forlorn world encased in glacial solitude haunts us.