30 Under 30 2024

Rithika Pandey: Imagining a much-more integrated world

What would reality be like if you looked beyond human relationships to include the non-human world too? Like plants, animals, land, and other invisible forces that shape events? Our 2023 winner in Art visualises these realities in her work

Jasodhara Banerjee
Published: Feb 2, 2023 11:34:38 AM IST
Updated: Feb 2, 2023 11:51:02 AM IST

Rithika Pandey: Imagining a much-more integrated worldRithika Pandey Image: Mexy Xavier; Light painting: Neha Mithbawkar & Arpit Jain

Rithika Pandey | 24

Born in Varanasi, Rithika Pandey grew up in different regions of Africa—Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya—before moving back to Mumbai. She studied Contemporary Art Practices at Srishti Manipal Institute of Art, Design and Technology, and took a year off to travel abroad, do a couple of foreign residencies and develop more mature works. She ended up in a small town in Wales, UK, where she felt she could make new works and reflect. This is where she created some breakthrough works that shaped her practice.

“My practice is a world-building practice, where I draw from mythology and science fiction to create alternative visions of worlds that transgress trauma and catastrophe as an end point. One of the ways in which these themes come together is by bringing human and non-human relationships into the picture. I try to move beyond how we relate to each other as humans, but also to see how we related to the more-than-human world, which includes plants, animals, land and invisible forces that shape events,” says Pandey, who is currently based in Mumbai. “How will we move forward as a species if we don’t learn to relate to these non-human agents in a sacred way?”

During the Covid-19 induced lockdowns in the UK, Pandey came across the works of authors such as Ursula K Le Guin and Donna J Haraway, which opened up a whole new world of non-human agency to her. Back in India, while travelling in remote areas of Himachal Pradesh, she developed a greater intimacy with the natural world, which led her to create new world.

Also read: 30 Under 30 2023: A decade of celebrating outstanding young achievers

“We held a solo show of Rithika’s work at the Grosvenor Gallery in May 2022. It was a great success, with interest from many private collectors and one or two institutions. She produces exciting, dynamic and contemplative work, based on deeply personal experiences. The themes and narratives come across strongly, and we found viewers really engaged with the work. I think she’s a great talent and will go on to do fantastic things,” says Charles Moore, director, Grosvenor Gallery, London.

Also read:  View the full list of Forbes India 30 Under 30 2023 here

Although painting has been instinctive for Pandey from a very young age, and it has been primary medium of expression, she thinks it is growing larger than what it is right now; she sees the painted world expanding into new horizons such as films and more immersive experiences.

Rithika Pandey: Imagining a much-more integrated world

(This story appears in the 10 February, 2023 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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